Over 300 reports of crimes ranging from drug trafficking to money laundering, and even corruption, were made to the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) last year.
The FIU is an autonomous agency that investigates financial crimes. It operates under the AML/CFT Act. The Unit has to work closely with other agencies, including the Guyana Revenue Authority and the Gaming Authority.
FIU Director Matthew Langevine told INews that of these 300 reports, his Unit’s investigations would have led to more than 25 intelligence reports being completed.
These reports, he said, were then forwarded to FIU’s sister agency, the Special Organised Crime Unit (SOCU).
“Based on those intelligence reports, which would have covered a number of areas, including suspected drug trafficking that would have led to suspected money laundering, there were a number of cases related to suspected tax evasion, and corruption-related cases,” Langevine explained.
“So, we’ve been working hard. I think we can look forward to the first annual report being published by the FIU within the next month or so, as required by the recent amendments to the [Anti-Money Laundering and Countering Financing of Terrorism] AML/CFT Act.”
Langevine explained that their work encompassed not only the reports they have shared with their counterpart, but also training and outreaches with other stakeholders. When it comes to challenges his Unit faces, Langevine identified receiving data from reporting entities as the number one challenge.
“One of the important things for the FIU is receiving data, information from the reporting entities. I think one of the challenges we continue to encounter is that there are still a number of sectors not reporting to us.”
“Specifically, in the areas of the designated non-financial entities. The lawyers and accountants come to mind. On the positive side, we’ve recently had a couple of workshops with those entities and I think it was well-received, especially from the accounting side”.
While the FIU has been walking the straight and narrow, its sister agency SOCU has been beleaguered with problems, since an audit into its operations was carried out by the Guyana Police Force (GPF).
The audit into SOCU, an arm of the Police, was first ordered by Police Commissioner Leslie James in February following claims of grave mismanagement which included the misuse of its operational fund.
The audit of the financial records of SOCU subsequently uncovered serious irregularities, including the falsification of records, and it has recommended immediate transfers and a fraud investigation of several of the discrepancies, sources say.
It has resulted in Public Security Minister Khemraj Ramjattan announcing in May of this year that several SOCU ranks would be transferred or even have their services terminated based on the findings.
Added to this, SOCU has had several of its cases tossed out by the courts, including one involving a number of charges against former Guyana Rice Development Board (GRDB) executives and Guyana Bank of Trade and Industry (GBTI) Directors.