AG denies that AML Bill gives Gov’t Ministers too much power

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[www.inewsguyana.com]Attorney General (AG) and Minister of Legal Affairs, Anil Nandlall is denying that the government proposed Anti – Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism Amendment Bill places too much power in the hands of the Finance and Legal Affairs Ministers.

Leader of the main opposition – A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) – David Granger revealed on Friday (February 7) that the very Bill gives  the two Ministers the power to order that someone be arrested.

“The Minister can have you arrested; the Minister can have your house searched. Some of them are outrageous, that’s why we’re taking this amount of time and going through it with a fine tooth comb. It’s not only you, you’re family, people related to you. People are exposed because of some of the provisions. We have to be very careful with how we go ahead,” the APNU Leader said.

However, in a statement contradicting the APNU Leader, Nandlall said that he has refined many of the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force (CFATF) recommendations from which the Bill was coined with a view of reducing certain powers which were recommended to reside with Ministers in the Bill.

“For example, in the recommendations the Attorney General, was recommended to have powers to instruct a commercial bank to freeze any account held at that bank which the Attorney General has reasonable suspicion to believe contains proceeds of crime.  I refined that recommendation to say that the Attorney General must apply ex parte to a judge for an order to freeze the account, and must be able to satisfy that judge that he has credible and reasonable basis to suspect that the account contains proceeds of crime,” the AG stated.

He further explained, “I specifically shifted that power from the Attorney General to a judge, because I believe that the Executive branch of Government should not enjoy such plenitude of power over the citizenry as there would be a likelihood of abuse. So I shifted that power to the judicial branch of Government. That is only one instance of several, where I reduced powers which were recommended to be resided in the Executive and I situated in other organs,” he noted.

“So I reject the notion or allegation made by the Opposition Leader that the Bill resides any unusual amount of power in the Executive or that it is different from legislation of similar type existing elsewhere.”

According to Nandlall, the reality is that the AMLCFT is an extraordinary Bill which bestows exceptional powers on all officers and entities named in the Bill because of its very nature, and this Bill came directly out of CFATF’s recommendations.

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