[www.inewsguyana.com] – A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) Parliamentarian Joseph Harmon has junked the interpretation of Attorney General Anil Nandlall in relation to the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force (CFATF) latest pronouncement on Guyana’s Anti – Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism (amendment) Bill.
Harmon, who is a member of the Parliamentary Special Select Committee considering amendments to the Bill, says the impression that CFATF has rejected the APNU’s proposed amendments is merely the AG’s interpretation.
“Luncheon had said he [Nandlall] doesn’t speak for the government, similarly he cannot speak for this Party or interpret a letter for us,” Harmon added.
The MP while speaking to iNews this morning said he received a copy of the letter sent by CFATF from the Opposition Leader and his impression is that the pronouncements by the Caribbean body is merely advisory.
“As a member of the Committee I don’t understand the letter to be binding.”
Minister Nandlall had reported yesterday that CFTAF had rejected the Opposition’s amendments.
But according to Harmon, Nandlall should make both the letter he wrote to the body and its response public and let people judge for themselves. He said Nandlall behaviour is distasteful, disgusting and out of order.
“If you frame questions in a certain way, it’s clear you will get certain answers, we did not see the letter sent, he did not get the consent of the full committee to send any letter seeking any opinion and a letter seeking any opinion should have come from the Committee,” Harmon said.
The MP questioned the move behind writing to CFATF before Parliament has had a chance to deliberate on the Bill and said the move by the AG is a bad and obtuse one.
Harmon said the government continues to run from what it needs to do; adding that the help the committee needs should be political in nature. He said the technical competence is there but political cooperation is absent.
Minister Nandlall had explained that since government’s amendments were approved by CFATF, a covering letter along with the Opposition’s draft to the CFTAF, “and as I predicted, the CFTAF rejected every single one of the amendments that they are proposing,” he was quoted by the Government Information Agency as saying.
One of the proposals calls for a removal of the role of the Attorney General from the process.
“The CFTAF’s answer to that suggestion was that it is wrong. The Attorney General is put there because he/she is legal advisor to the Government and would be recipient of all legal materials that would come into the Government’s position in relation to its relations with organisations such as the United Nations Security Council and other international organisations.
“And it is the Attorney General that will have to go to court for and behalf of the Government to seek certain orders to give effect to the Government’s obligation under various treaties, and therefore the Office of the Attorney General is important in the legislative apparatus of the AMLCFT regime,” Minister Nandlall explained.
The Opposition also proposed that Parliament appoint an authority to oversee and supervise the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU), its operations and officers. Government has long maintained that this type of mechanism would undermine the functional autonomy of the FIU which by all international standards must be functionally independent and autonomous in the discharge of its day to day function, and as well, must be free and insulated from political interference and influence both apparent and real, a view shared by CFTAF. Minister Nandlall noted that CFTAF rejected this proposal as well.
“The CFTAF’s advice on that particular proposal of the Opposition was that it does not meet the international standards, that the mechanism for appointment is politically contaminated and that the method or the mechanism that it creates removes from the FIU and its staff and directors that important requisite autonomy and functional independence,” Minister Nandlall disclosed.
The third ‘condemnation’ relates to what was submitted of the Opposition’s draft with regards to seizure of cash. This was rejected on the basis that it was not part of the requirement and that it is a completely unnecessary imposition, Minister Nandlall added.
Several efforts to contact Basil Williams, who is the lead spokesperson for the opposition in the Committee proved futile.
Guyana is required to have this bill passed on or before May 26 or be declared non grata by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) to its member states as a country that is non-cooperative in the global fight against money laundering and financing of terrorism.