Stabroek News

AG to address October 4 anti-laundering forum

A seminar on anti-money laundering, counterfeiting and the financing of terrorism that seeks to equip vulnerable institutions with the proper tools to help guard against these global scourges will be held here next month.

The one-day seminar, which aims to raise awareness and provide practical guidance, will be held at the Pegasus Hotel on October 4th. United States-based consulting firm Compliance Aid which specializes in Anti-Money Laundering/Countering the Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT) and Financial Crimes Prevention (FCP) and which offers advisory and intelligence services, training programs and solutions, is facilitating the seminar. The local management services firm Cerulean Inc has been recruited as the support partner for the exercise.  

A press statement from Cerulean earlier this week said that Guyana’s Attorney-General and Minister of Legal Affairs Basil Williams, who is also Chairman of the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force (CFATF), will deliver the keynote address at the forum. Governor of the Bank of Guyana Dr Gobin Ganga and Director of the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) Matthew Langevine are also expected to address the gathering. 

The seminar will be facilitated by the President and Chief Executive Officer of Compliance Aid Michelle Martin and, according to the Cerulean release, will broach a number of critical issues including threats of terrorism in the region and offer practical guidance to potentially vulnerable institutions.

Followers of the local and regional discourse on anti-money laundering, counterfeiting and the financing of terrorism in Guyana and the region will regard the forum as timely given the naming of Guyana as a “major money-laundering jurisdiction” in the US Department of State’s International Narcotics Control Strategy Report (INCSR) in March this year. The report had criticized what it said was a deficiency in inter-agency cooperation among local AML and drug-combatting agencies, pointing to human resource deficiencies and shortcomings in the quality of training necessary for effective enforcement.

In its report, the INCSR had tagged “narcotics trafficking and government corruption” as being at the heart of money-laundering whilst making reference to human trafficking, illicit gold mining, contraband, and tax evasion. At the same time, it referred to Guyana as a transit location for hemispheric cocaine destined for regional and extra-regional markets.

 In its report the INCSR had also advocated that Guyana seek to “increase awareness and understanding of anti-money-laundering laws within key local agencies. 

According to the Cerulean release, the seminar targets a wide range of individuals and entities including Regulated Business Owners, Compliance Officers, Auditors, Government Regulators, Law Enforcement Agencies, Risk Management Specialists, Attorneys, Accountants, Car Dealerships, Casinos & Gaming, Commercial Banks, Credit Institutions, Credit Unions and import/export agencies.

The key local agencies involved in the anti-drug running and money-laundering aspects of law-enforcement including the Guyana Police Force (GPF), Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA), the Customs Anti-Narcotics Unit (CANU), the Special Organized Crimes Unit (SOCU) and the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) have repeatedly come under criticism on account of shortcomings that include a paucity of trained personal and deficiencies in inter-agency cooperation.

The release says that the seminar seeks to help participants to develop risk-based AML/CFT programmes, conduct effective know your customer due diligence, understand the importance of ‘clean’ information on customers, recognise suspicious transactions and identify red flags, create a risk-based customer risk rating matrix and identify and handle trade-based money laundering.