By Jomo Paul
[www.inewsguyana.com] – The People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) says that the Anti-Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT) Bill 2015 is not compliant with the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) recommendations, but is also affirming that it will not head to Parliament to discuss the Bill with the government.
The AML/CFT bill is scheduled to be tabled in the National Assembly on Thursday June 25, when the House meets for its first official sitting with the PPP still absent.
PPP Executive Member, Gail Teixeira at a Wednesday morning press briefing detailed several inaccuracies with the Bill in its current state, pointing out that the PPP/C was presenting a compliant bill, but the APNU+AFC is not.
Teixeira noted that the amendment to Sections 8 & 9 which deals with the establishment of an AML/CFT Authority from which members will be appointed by the National Assembly, and removing the powers of the Minister to appoint the Director of the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) and the power of the President to dismiss the Director and placing these powers in the Authority.
The Authority will also be responsible for overseeing the operations of the FIU.
“The amendment as stated appears to undermine the autonomy of the FIU. As stipulated in the criteria of FATF Recommendation 26, the FIU should have sufficient operational independence and autonomy to ensure that it is free from undue influence or interference. The assigning of the responsibility of oversight of the operations of the FIU to the AML/CFT Authority effectively eliminates the operational independence and autonomy and does not comply with the requirement of Recommendation 26,” said Teixeira.
She noted too that the APNU+AFC government is aware of the contentious areas of the Bill and should take step to rectify it and not risk the country being blacklisted to “save face” adding that “the PPP should not be used to save face.”
Meanwhile, Former Attorney General Anil Nandlall explained that taking away the power of appointment from the President and giving it to the National Assembly provides an ideal set up for there to be corruption in the appointment of the Head of the unit.
“This Bill takes politically exposed persons and makes them managers of the FIU,” Nandlall stated pointing out that it is better to have one politically exposed person handle the affairs of the FIU rather than have 65.