|Caribbean leaders support efforts to pass anti-money laundering bill in Guyana|
|Published on March 22, 2014||
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GEORGETOWN, Guyana -- Several regional leaders have written to Guyana’s President Donald Ramotar, expressing their concerns about the failure of the local legislature to pass the critically needed Anti Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT) Amendment Bill.
St Lucian prime minister, Dr Kenny Anthony stated that Guyana’s intransigence is “exceedingly unfortunate as the damage to the reputation of Guyana could be costly”.
He expressed the hope that better sense will prevail and a swift solution is found, as he indicated his government’s support for the Guyana government’s effort to secure the passage of the Bill.
Premier of the British Virgin Islands Dr Orlando Smith, noted that Guyana’s pivotal role in bringing about regional AML/CFT compliance is recognised and efforts in seeking to strengthen Guyana’s existing legislation are to be commended.
“The Virgin Islands supports your ongoing efforts to bring about the enactment of key legislative reforms. In the context, we will at CFATF level and especially at the ICRG level, endeavour to encourage and emphasise the need for expedited reform and the importance of national unity and cohesiveness in order to achieve this,” Smith stated.
Ramotar was also wished success in moving forward what was described as a very critical process.
It was hoped by Barbados Prime Minister Freundel Stuart, that the initial statement issued by the CARICOM Bureau last November would have made a positive impact on this challenging situation, “but it clearly has not done so”.
The Barbadian leader noted that without any doubt this situation and the threatened action by CFATF will affect Guyana and the entire Caribbean region, “and will negatively impact the well-being of our people”.
Heads of government of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) at their 25th inter-sessional meeting in Kingstown, St Vincent and the Grenadines, recently issued a call for Guyana to pass the bill currently in a special select committee of the National Assembly.
The heads discussed the impasse in Guyana in caucus, and agreed that the non-passage of this piece of legislation will have devastating economic impact, not only for Guyana, but the rest of the region, if Guyana is blacklisted internationally.
The Financial Action Task Force (FATF) is slated to meet in June 2014, when it will make a decision as to whether Guyana should be subjected to a prima facie review by the International Co-operation Review Group (ICRG).
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In Saint Vincent we have had a money laundering bill for years. But it appears to only apply to non regime members of the ruling party.
A senator took an old bag to a bank containing US$1 million in cash. He asked for it to be changed for EC$s in cash, left the bag with bank for them to complete the transaction. The bank after considering the implications called up the senator and told him to collect the US cash as they could not do such a transaction. No police called, no report to IFSA the reporting authority, later PM Gonsalves said it was a legal transaction.
I ask how such a transaction can be legal? If I take US$10,000 in to a bank they call the police and report to IFSA.
A couple of weeks later the ULP party hierarchy and their family members started turning up all over town with bundles of US cash. Most of them actually banked amounts in excess of US$10,000, but again no reporting took place.
A young lady reported all the transactions and stole documentary evidence form the bank and gave it to persons who had them published.
She was found and fired from her bank job, because there does not seem to be protection for whistle blowers in SVG.
Any one with half a brain knows that US$1 million in cash doesn't come in an old bag, it comes via a bank to bank transfer or such like.
We have no way of knowing if it was dirty money, drug money, money given by states such as Cuba or Venezuela as goodies to our revolutionary Marxist government.
If the money was donations from American donors, what were they doing having a big share out?
So you see my Guyanese friends, you can have your cake and eat it as well, so just pass the legislation.
And THAT self-same Gonsalves is the chair-person of CARICOM these six months ?