Guyana will prioritise efforts to combat financial crimes, money laundering – AG

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Attorney General Anil Nandlall

See full statement from Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs Anil Nandlall:

The Anti-money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism and Proliferation Financing, National Coordination Committee, which I chair, takes pride in confirming the completion of the country’s second Money Laundering/ Terrorist Financing (ML/ TF) National Risk Assessment (NRA) Report.

The NRA exercise was conducted in line with the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) Recommendation 1, which requires all countries on an ongoing basis, to identify, assess, and understand their Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing risks and to take action and apply resources and preventative measures to mitigate the identified risks, using a risk-based approach. The exercise, which is the second Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing NRA completed by Guyana within the last six years, was conducted using the NRA tool developed by the World Bank.

This second NRA which commenced in December 2019 was conducted by a Working Group of over seventy (70) persons representing over forty (40) public and private sector agencies in Guyana. Notwithstanding numerous challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic the Working Group concluded the exercise in June 2021.   The World Bank provided guidance and support to the Working Group throughout the NRA process. The results of the exercise are detailed within the NRA Report and an accompanying Risk Based Action Plan, which contains over one hundred recommendations to be implemented by various agencies. These documents have already been shared with key AML/CFT stakeholder agencies locally, to commence the implementation of the Action Plan.

In conducting the exercise, the Working Group assessed and identified the country’s ML/TF threats and vulnerabilities. This included the identification of weaknesses and gaps in Guyana’s ability to effectively deal with the existing Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing vulnerabilities and threats. The Working Group examined the money laundering vulnerabilities faced by twenty (20) sectors that are considered as possessing higher than normal risk for Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing locally. These sectors include Banks, Insurance Companies and Brokers, Money Transfer Agencies, Cambios, Securities Businesses, Attorneys-at-law, Accountants, Notaries, Trust or Company Service Providers, House/ Real Estate Agents, Used Car/ Parts Dealers, Registered Charities, Dealers in Precious Metals (Gold Dealers), Dealers in Precious and Semi-Precious Stones (Diamond Dealers), Credit Unions, Cooperatives, Betting Shops, Casinos, Lotteries, and Pawnbrokers.

The Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing threat and vulnerability posed by Financial Inclusion Products, the country’s risk of exposure to Proliferation Financing, the risk associated with Illegal Wildlife Trade, and Money Laundering risks associated with Guyana’s emerging Oil and Gas Sector were also assessed by the Working Group.

Some of the recommendations put forward by the working group to address the existing Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing threats and vulnerabilities identified include (i) the development of an updated formal National Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing Policy and Strategy. This Policy has been drafted and we hope to have it finalized with some technical support and guidance from the World Bank, by November 30, 2022; (ii) additional amendments to the AML/CFT Act and other legislation. Some of these proposed amendments have already been drafted/ passed (AMLCFT Amendment Act passed and signed off by the President, H.E Hon. Dr. Mohamed Irfaan Ali, on August 11, 2022; (iii) outreach activities to the relevant authorities; these have been ongoing and will be intensified; and (iv) outreach and training programs to the private sector to be prioritized – this has already been initiated.  Additionally, efforts to strengthen domestic cooperation and coordination among competent authorities concerning the development and implementation of AML/CFT activities are ongoing. These are just a few of the ongoing measures by the relevant agencies in response to the recommendations by the Working Group.  The country’s efforts to combat financial crimes including money laundering and terrorism financing will continue to be prioritized by the Government. These efforts are also being implemented to ensure Guyana’s readiness as the country prepares for its Fourth Round Mutual Evaluation by the CFATF which is scheduled for the third quarter of 2023. The mutual evaluation process has already commenced with a Pre-Assessment Training facilitated by the CFATF for both Public and Private Sector AML/CFT stakeholders on October 12-14, 2022.  The aim of the training is to ensure that these key stakeholders understand their AML/CFT roles and responsibilities and are equipped and prepared for Guyana’s Assessment.

The full NRA report and Executive Summary are now available to the public on the Ministry of Legal Affairs and the Financial Intelligence Unit websites.