Guyana disappointed at being “blacklisted” again

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donald_ramotar_400aGEORGETOWN, Guyana, Friday May 30, 2014, CMC – The Guyana government Thursday night expressed its disappointment that the country had been placed on a list that urged the international community to take measures to protect their financial system from the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) country.

President Donald Ramotar in a radio and television broadcaststatement said that Georgetown had received information that the 39th meeting of the Caribbean Financial Action task Force (CFATF) which ended on Thursday had reviewed the country’s failure to pass the Anti-money Laundering and Combating the Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT).

He said the CFATF had also referred the matter to the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) and warned the international community that Guyana poses serious risks to the international financial system.

“The measures at this stage could include the requirement of enhanced due diligence;  introducing enhanced reporting mechanisms or systematic reporting of financial transactions; refusing the establishment of subsidiaries or branches or representative offices in Guyana  or otherwise taking into account the fact that the relevant financial institution is from a country that does not have adequate AML/CFT systems and limiting the business relationships or financial transactions with Guyana or persons in our country,  among others.”

The CFATF had issued a public statement in May 2013 recommending that Guyana take steps to ensure that it addressed its AML/CFT deficiencies.

A few months later, the CFATF issued a further public statement calling upon its members to consider implementing counter measures to protect their financial systems from the ongoing money laundering and terrorist financing risks emanating from Guyana.

Guyana has failed to pass the relevant legislation necessary for it to significantly improve its AML/CFT regime and therefore has not substantially addressed the outstanding deficiencies from its mutual evaluation report.

The government has blamed the opposition parties which control a one-seat majority in the 65-member Parliament for the situation.

The opposition has said that it would not support the measure until certain conditions related to local government elections, last held here decades ago, are implemented.

Ramotar in his broadcast said that his administration “did everything possible to get this piece of Legislation through the National Assembly”

He said a CFATF compliant bill had been tabled in Parliament since April 22, 2013 and “had it been passed then, Guyana would not be in this situation today.

“The Opposition demanded that it be sent to a Special Select Committee because they had amendments.    They proposed no amendments, the Government then returned the bill to Parliament in November 2013. The Opposition voted it down.”

Ramotar said that in December last year, the Bill was returned to Parliament and again the Opposition demanded that it go to a Special Select Committee for them to make amendments.

“They only proposed amendments in February 2014, just before a CFATF review meeting later that month. A CFATF assessor was invited to look at the amendments.  At a meeting held of the Special Select Committee on February 21, 2014 he expressed the view that the Opposition’s amendments were not CFATF compliant.  He spoke to the media and the Business Community and expressed the same opinion.”

Ramotar said that his CARICOM colleagues have been urging Guyana to pass the legislation to prevent “the unnecessary hardship to our people and the rest of region,” adding individual CARICOM leaders, the Organization of American States, (OAS), the local business, labour, banking, insurance and farming communities have also made several appeals to have this legislation urgently passed.”

He said senior CFATF officials also visited Guyana and urged the legislation be passed and that “exhortations by the diplomatic community here also pointed to the dangers and urged that we pass this bill.

“In spite of these regional, international and local voices, the Opposition stubbornly refused to support the passage of a CFATF compliant Bill. In so doing, they have now put in danger our country’s financial system.  Moreover they have now endangered the very welfare of all of our citizens.”

Ramotar said he was calling on the opposition parties to “unconditionally pass a CFATF compliant Bill to limit the harm already done and the dangers to our people’s well being.

“I will assent to such a bill as soon as it is sent to me by the National Assembly,” he told the nation.

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