By Fareeza Haniff
[www.inewsguyana.com] – The fact that the Marriott Hotel investor remains a secret is a clear indication why the country’s Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) should be strengthened.
This view was expressed by A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) Executive Member and Parliamentarian, Joseph Harmon who told iNews that the government is against the FIU amendment because they do not want to reveal the investor in the Marriot Hotel Project.
In an effort to strengthen Guyana’s Anti – Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism (Amendment) Bill, the APNU proposed that the Director of the FIU be appointed by Parliament, as opposed to the Finance Minister.
However, this is an amendment which the government is not in favour of.
“You can’t have a company or a ground of people who are investing millions of US dollars in a project and until now you can’t discover the identity of these persons. This is why we believe that strengthening the capacity of the Financial Intelligence Unit to be able to investigate and address these issues is so important,” Harmon told iNews.
He explained, “And this is why the government is fighting against it because they want to keep an environment where you can have these private and undercover types of investments taking place without the public knowing and you just see these buildings going up and up and up.”
According to Harmon, the APNU is very concerned that the Marriott investor is still a secret.
“Nobody in the government, nobody in NICIL, nobody in the special company that was appointed to build this thing, nobody is saying anything about these investors but the work is going on. So the impression I get is that there is a private person who would not want his/her identity known and therefore we have to be very concerned about that because this is really what we’re talking about when we’re talking about money laundering and issues of transparency,” Harmon said.
In September 2013, Chairman of Atlantic Hotel Inc (AHI) was confident that the Marriott Hotel deal will reach financial closure by the end of the year and that the hotel and entertainment complex will be opened by the third quarter of 2014.
However, to date there has been no word on any financial closure. An approximate US$20M has been invested in the project thus far, while the investor remains a mystery.