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House passes Anti-Money Laundering, Compliance Commission Bills

Attorney General Anil Nandlall

A Bill to amend the Anti-Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism Act of 2009 was early Friday morning passed in the National Assembly.

The Bill seeks to modify the act to meet the best-practiced standards of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) and improve the abilities and powers of law enforcement in combatting money laundering, and terrorism and proliferation financing.

According to the FATF, proliferation refers to the illegal manufacture, acquisition, development, export, trans-shipment, brokering, transport, transfer, stockpiling, or use of nuclear, chemical or biological weapons and their means of delivery and related materials.

Presenting the Anti-Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism (Amendment) Bill, Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Mohabir Anil Nandlall, SC, noted that the AML/CFT act is required to be updated periodically, implementing recommendations from an international regulatory body.

“These directions and these recommendations are conceived and crafted based upon expert examination of international trends in the area of AML/CFT and terrorist financing. As the landscape of these offenses change, as they become more complex… sophisticated, and prevalent, as they change their character, so will the recommendations that will come to meet the changes and exigencies of what is obviously an evolving phenomenon,” Minister Nandlall explained.

Meanwhile, the Guyana Compliance Commission Bill of 2023 was also passed in the National Assembly on Friday morning.

That bill allows for the provision of adequate supervision to designated non-financial businesses or professions and non-bank financial institutions, for compliance with obligations under the Anti-Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism Act.

This non-governmental body will enhance the compliance, guidance and training regime on money laundering, terrorism financing, and proliferation financing in Guyana, and provide domestic and international cooperation, and related matters.

The minister said that the bill, No. 12 of 2023, is one of the bills central to Guyana’s upcoming assessment in September.

“Guyana has conducted two national risk assessments, which concluded in 2017 and 2021, respectively. In each of these risk assessments, it was noted that Guyana does not have adequate anti-money laundering, countering the financing of terrorism, combatting the financing of proliferation of weapons of mass destruction supervision for a number of reporting entities known as designated nonfinancial business and professions, abbreviated as DNFBPs.

“So, that was a hole in our AMLCFT architecture; that we don’t have a sufficient number of supervisory authorities to regulate various areas of activities in our financial sector,” Minister Nandlall explained.

As such, under recommendations made by the Financial Action Task Force, it became imperative that the DNFBPs have a supervisory authority for the purpose of strengthening the AML/CFT framework.

The bill was supported by Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Hugh Todd.

“What we are achieving here this evening is to ensure that Guyana is compliant, and we also fit within the best practices of not only the region itself but by extension, extra-regionally… This approach to regulation is certainly commendable, and demonstrates a commitment of the government to support the private sector while preserving the integrity of its financial markets and honouring our country’s international obligations,” he expressed.

In his closing remarks, Minister Nandlall reminded that the AML/CFT framework forms a unique set of laws that are crucial to the governance of the country.

“The AML/CFT set of laws are what can be described as sui generis (unique). They are a different, peculiar and unique framework of statutory regulation. Because they are directed to regulate a unique, peculiar type of criminal conduct. Money laundering, international financing of terrorism, organised crime, arms smuggling, cocaine… We in Guyana are simply part of an international regime. These laws were not originated in Guyana or the Caribbean. This is the international, best practiced, acceptable standard that the world is governed by if you want to be part of the civilised league of nations,” he expressed.