Guyana for the first time on Thursday morning initiated a two day workshop for Judges and Prosecutors on Anti-Money Laundering (AML)/Counter-Terrorist Financing (CFT)/ Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) at the Pegasus Hotel.
The initiative, which serves as a contribution by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) President, Santiago Otamendi of Argentina, was identified as one of the FATF Priorities for 2017-2018 and saw the attendance of President of Guyana, David Granger, Attorney General (AG), Basil Williams, among other significant members.
In his address during the opening ceremony, Williams explained that the main objective of the workshop is to continue the outreach to the Prosecutorial Services and Criminal Justice System.
He posited that given the current focus during the fourth round of mutual evaluations on the effectiveness of AML/CFT systems and the crucial role it plays in the effective implementation of the FATF Standards, there was a need to have a renewed and enhanced engagement with the Regional Judicial and Prosecutorial Services.
“The work of judges and prosecutors is crucial to consolidating stable and effective institutions, integrity, transparency and the rule of law, which are all pillars of an effective anti-money laundering and countering terrorist financing system,” he told the gathering.
The workshop further seeks to provide a platform for gathering and sharing experiences, challenges and best practices in investigating and prosecuting money laundering and terrorist financing, as well as depriving criminals of their proceeds.
“While many of our countries in the Caribbean Region have enacted the necessary legislative measures to criminalize money laundering, as well as terrorist financing and proliferation financing, the overall rate of convictions and the confiscation of criminal proceeds have been moderate,” the Minister explained.
Moroever, Williams noted that if the global AML/CFT efforts are to be effective, it is absolutely necessary that countries also obtain convictions and pursue seizing and confiscating the proceeds and instrumentalities of crime for the benefit of States and victims.
He also stated that Countering Violent Extremism (CVE), is an important element in the fight against extremist who seek to recruit, radicalize and mobilize their followers to commit acts of violence.
“Our focus for the next two days centers around issues relating to investigative orders, the prosecution and management of Money Laundering Cases, International Co-operation, confiscation and restraint orders, conviction-based confiscation and terrorism/terrorist financing.”
Similar global workshops have been conducted jointly between the FATF and FATF Style Regional Bodies (FSRBs) in Quito, Ecuador in September 2017, in Shenzhen, China in January 2018, in Tunisia in February 2018 and more recently Strasbourg, France in March 2018.
In the past, the CFATF in conjunction with the Commonwealth Secretariat has held programs for Judges (in Jamaica, in 2012) and Prosecutors (in St. Lucia, in 2015).
“The outcomes of previous workshops held by the FATF in other regions of the world demonstrate that there are a great number of common challenges and practices to be addressed with regard to issues such as resources, risk understanding, international cooperation, proper asset recovery and management, the applicable standard of proof and admissibility of classified information as evidence signaling the crucial significance for having this Workshop,” Williams asserted.