Caribbean Action Task Force Requires Status Report from Guyana Anti-Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism Bill

Submitted by Guyana Trades Union Congress (Press Release)
Donald Ramotar, President of Guyana

Donald Ramotar, President of Guyana

Now that Mr. Roger Hernandez, the Caribbean Action Task Force’s (CFATF) representative, has visited Guyana and interacted with some stakeholders on the Anti-Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT) Bill, the principal actors and nation are asked to pay heed to the crucial areas. Mr. Hernandez said CFATF requires a Report on Guyana’s progress by 28th February. He further stated Guyana will not be automatically removed from CFATF’s Watchlist (Blacklist) even if the bill is passed and, earlier informed that from experience the minimal period for removal is approximately two years. He communicated clearly- “You require implementation; it is not just passing the law. It is about implementing the law.”

The National Assembly meets on 27th February. The Bill is attracting the draftsman’s attention, and it is highly improbable it can be debated and assented to by 28th February. CFATF will be aware of this. Progress is being made and CFAFT’s review date for Guyana is May 2014. The areas raised by CFATF regarding amendments to the principal Act and present Bill and need for conformity should be noted. This nation should pay heed Hernandez’s expressed concern is that amendment (s) should not risk being CFATF non-complaint. Guyana is capable of achieving this without comprising our Constitution and desire for good governance by realising a fool proof Act and Bill that would ensure adherence, proper policing and accountability by those tasked with implementation. In principle this position is not dissimilar to CFATF’s interest and here is where heads must come together.

The Private Sector in taking a vociferous role on this matter must rise to the occasion beyond requiring the Opposition pass the Bill. It must equally require and ensure the administration gives true meaning to previous AML/CFT laws through implementation, along with other laws that it is openly flouting. The PPP administration has a poor record of implementing laws that run counter to its and allies’ interest.

The GTUC wishes to state that as it engages the opposition on the Bauxite Company of Guyana Incorporated (BCGI) impasse it is not prepared to accept any guarantee that the arbitration will commence. GTUC wishes to have the arbitration letters re-issued before passage of the Bill, because this administration almost two years ago gave the Supreme Court the guarantee it will re-issue the letters and to date nothing has be done. Additionally, the demands to assent to outstanding bills, implement outstanding structures in the AML/CFT Principal Act and the establishment of the Public Procurement Commission are consistent with a principal concern CFATF has with Guyana, that is, respecting/implementing laws.

GTUC calls on President Ramotar to stop misleading the nation by claiming his non-assent to bills is because they are unconstitutional. The determination of constitutionality is vested in the Judiciary, not the President. As Head of State and Head of Government the President is vested primary responsibility to deliver leadership to this society by assuring the citizenry, regional and international bodies his administration’s capability and commitment to respect/implement all laws. It is his responsibility to address the just demands made by the GTUC, opposition and CFATF and he is urged to do so.

The matter of the AML/CFT law, its implementation and being CFATF compliant began in 2009. Guyana was placed on the Watch list (Black list) in 2013. This nation must get it right and President Ramotar has more than enough time before the National Assembly meets again to attend to the outstanding matters brought to his attention. There are 24 hours in a day. It can be done if the president has the political will. If the Bill fails to pass it is not because of the opposition but the result of the administration’s comfort with the status quo.

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