APNU proposes three major amendments to AML Bill; Gov’t not in agreement

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By Fareeza Haniff

Government Chief Whip, Gail Teixeira
Government Chief Whip, Gail Teixeira

[www.inewsguyana.com]As the government fights to meet a deadline of the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force (CFATF), the main opposition – A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) proposed three amendments to the Anti – Money Laundering (Amendment) and Countering the Financing of Terrorism Bill during a committee meeting on Saturday night (February 8).

Chair of the Parliamentary Select Committee considering the Bill, Gail Teixeira told iNews during a telephone interview that this is the first time that the APNU, through its member Carl Greenidge has brought any amendments to the table, and these proposed amendments she said are to the principal Act of and is not what the CFATF recommended that Guyana changed.

She explained that two of the amendments deal with the Financial Intelligence Unit and how the Director of that Unit is appointed. At the moment, the principal Act gives the authority to the Finance Minister to appoint the Director, however according to Teixeira the APNU is proposing that the Director be appointed through Parliament.

“This goes against the model used in Commonwealth countries, where the Director is appointed by the Minister of Finance. CFATF did not ask Guyana to make any change to those sections,” Teixeira told iNews.

The other amendment has to do with expanding the power of Police and Customs Department to arrest persons found with over US$10,000 in their possession.

Guyana’s law provides for the authorities to seize such huge amounts of cash at point of entries into the country. However, according to Teixeira, the APNU is proposing that the police and custom officers be given the power to stop and search random persons and if found with more than US$10,000, they money can be seized and the person arrested.

“This is a major concern for us. Guyana is still a cash based economy….people still build houses, buy cars and there are people who will be in possession of that amount of money as they go about their day to day business. This could have a major impact on people who are not money launders,” Teixeira explained.

She noted that the APNU should stick to amending the parts of the Bill which are required by the CFAFT and not change the Principal Act. She further explained that the new amendments by the Party are not properly drafted.

“Some are not clear, not well thought out and were brought at this end hour. The question is, do they intend to complete the Bill today or is it another ploy to delay the Bill?”

The Committee will continue its meeting today, Sunday February 9, with the dim hope of completing its work as to table the  Bill in the National Assembly on Monday, February 10.

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