Anti – Money Laundering Bill will most likely not be passed – Gov’t

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By Fareeza Haniff

President Donald Ramotar and Junior Finance Minister, Juan Edghill interacts with members of the media after the press conference.
President Donald Ramotar and Junior Finance Minister, Juan Edghill interacts with members of the media after the press conference.

[www.inewsguyana.com] – Government is not too optimistic that the Anti – Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism (Amendment) Bill will be passed before February 28, which is the deadline for which Guyana has to submit a report to the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force (CFATF).

During a press conference at Office of the President on Wednesday, February 26, Head of State Donald Ramotar said that his government tried its best to reach consensus with the political opposition but to no avail.

The President and his team met with the two Opposition parties earlier in the day but the meeting turned out to be unproductive. According to the President, he assured the Alliance For Change (AFC) that he is ready to work towards establishing the Public Procurement Commission (PPC) but that the government’s ‘no objection’ role must be preserved, something which the AFC is not willing to accept.

“They wanted me to give them all of the assurances that they want but the APNU has refused to mention to me what concessions they were ready to make on the Amendments that they have. I went further to say since we know that we have a Bill that we know is CFATF compliant, let us pass that Bill and let us send the Amendments that they have to the CFATF to seek their opinions if these Bills will be in compliance with the CFATF,” the Head of State said.

Meanwhile, also present at the press conference was Attorney General and Legal Affairs Minister, Anil Nandlall who explained that the AFC has since backpedaled on its position which is that if the PPC is established they will support the AML Bill.

Nandlall told reporters that the AFC has now adopted the position of the APNU. “We have said to the AFC that we are prepared to give you the Public Procurement Commission for tomorrow morning (Thursday). We are prepared to do everything that can be done between today and tomorrow, so that you can have the Procurement Commission as far as possible that which can be accomplished by tomorrow morning. What is the AFC’s response? No.”

The APNU’s position he said keeps changing on a daily basis. “We are at a position where the Bill most likely not be passed because of the unreasonable demands of the Opposition, which has changed over and over again,” Nandall said.

The Parliamentary Special Select Committee, which is tasked with reviewing the Amendments, is currently meeting in Georgetown this evening with the dim hope that some consensus can be met so that the Bill can be returned to the National Assembly for Thursday’s sitting.

The APNU proposed three major amendments to the Principal Act of the AML&CFT Bill. Among the amendments are for Police and Customs Officers to have the power to seize currency worth over $2M (US$10,000) and arrest persons if it is suspected that it is the proceeds of or the subject of money laundering.

Additionally, APNU also proposed that the Finance Minister no longer have the power to appoint the Director of Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) and be placed in a committee of the National Assembly.

They further proposed the establishment of an authority comprising 10 persons nominated by the National Assembly after consulting with stakeholders.

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