GEORGETOWN, Guyana (GINA) -- Guyana’s and, in particular, the local financial sector’s worst fears have been confirmed with the pronouncement by the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force (CFATF) that the country has been officially blacklisted.
CFATF’s XXXVIII Plenary Meeting concluded on Thursday in Freeport, Bahamas, where Guyana was represented by attorney general and minister of legal affairs, Anil Nandlall, and government’s chief whip gail Texeira.
In a statement, Nandlall said that the regional watchdog body has identified Guyana as a jurisdiction with “strategic AML/CFT deficiencies that have not made sufficient progress in addressing the deficiencies or have not complied with its Action Plan developed with CFATF to address these deficiencies”.
CAFTF also issued a public statement which highlighted that, while Guyana has made efforts to address its deficiencies as it relates to counter measures against financial crimes, it has not taken sufficient steps towards improving its anti-money laundering and countering the financing of terrorism (AML/CFT) compliance regime by failing to approve and implement required legislative reforms.
According to the public statement, “In November 2011 the CFATF brought to the attention of its members certain jurisdictions including Guyana with significant strategic deficiencies in their AML/CFT regime. With a view to encouraging expeditious rectification of the identified strategic deficiencies, Guyana and the CFATF developed an action plan with identified target dates to address the strategic deficiencies that exist in Guyana’s national architecture to combat money laundering and the financing of terrorism.”
The task force maintains that Guyana must pass the relevant legislation and implement all the outstanding issues within its action plan, fully criminalise money laundering and terrorist financing offences, address all the requirements on beneficial ownership, strengthen the requirements for suspicious transaction reporting, improve international cooperation and ensure the freezing and confiscation of all terrorist assets, and implement fully, the Conventions of the United Nations.
As a result of Guyana’s failure to fully comply with the CFATF’s recommendation, the body is now calling on its members to consider implementing counter measures to protect their financial systems from the ongoing money laundering and terrorist financing risks emanating from Guyana.
Nandlall said that it was further resolved that a formal letter be sent to Guyana advising that, should the identified deficiencies be not satisfactorily rectified, namely, the approval and implementation of the required legislative reforms, by the next plenary meeting, that is, by May 2014, then Guyana will be referred by CFATF to the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) International Corporation Review Group (ICRG).
However, the FATF will have its next plenary meeting in February 2014, and at that forum, on its own accord and independent of CFATF, can select Guyana for its own review.
Guyana had made a presentation to CFATF in August earlier this year, at which time the body noted favourably, the efforts made the government in addressing the non-legislative aspects of its (CFATF’s) recommendations. At that time the country was given an incomplete status.
However, despite the pleadings of the administration, civil society bodies, the private sector and ordinary Guyanese citizens, the two parliamentary opposition parties, APNU and AFC remained unmoved and refuse to render their support for the passage of the amendments to the AMLCFT Bill.