Caribbean bankers call on Guyana to pass anti-money laundering law

The Caribbean Association of Banks (CAB) on Monday called on Guyana to pass amendments to the 2009 Anti-Money Laundering and Countering of Financing Terrorism (AML/CFT) Act because this is not only about that country.

Guyana must pass the essential Anti-Money Laundering and Combating the Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT) Amendment Bill. “The passage of the AML bill is not only about Guyana, but also about the international financial sector as a whole in order to protect all financial systems, within the region, from ongoing money laundering and terrorist financing risks. We are only as strong as our weakest link,” said Caribbean Association of Banks, Chairman Carlton Barclay in a statement.

It is now about two years since the opposition-controlled National Assembly has refused to pass the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force’s (CFATF)- compliant amendments, citing the need to set up a rigid parliamentary oversight body to avoid political interference. The opposition also wants to give Customs and Police to seize money and other valuables if there is reasonable suspicion of money laundering or terrorism financing. Also among its list of demands is for government to set up a constitutionally required Public Procurement Commission.

CAB says it recognizes the Guyana government’s efforts to put in place alternative measures to address the technical deficiencies in its existing legal and financial legislative framework for assessment by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) and applauds them. “However, it is one small step in actions required by Guyana in order for it to comply with international standards,” said the regional umbrella body.

Billions of dollars are laundered each year posing significant policy concerns for governments worldwide. As a result, governments and international bodies have undertaken efforts to deter, prevent, and apprehend money launderers. Non-compliance to the global FATF recommendations will have a significant impact on Correspondent Banking Relationships which, in turn, is of vital importance to the facilitation of business in the financial services sector of the region.

CAB added that Guyana’s expediency in passing the AML/CFT Bill will not only benefit its own economy and growth but strengthen our regional financial network and its reputation worldwide.

Similar calls by Britain,Canada, United States, the Caribbean Community (Caricom) and the Organisation of American States (OAS) have also fallen on deaf ears. The combined opposition A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) and the Alliance For Change (AFC) control the 65-member National Assembly by one vote.

Caribbean Association of Banks, Inc is a community of banks and other financial institutions in the Caribbean/CARICOM Region, which provides opportunities for discussion on issues impacting the regional banking/financial services community as well as for the sharing of experiences and networking.

CAB is an organization dedicated to the advocacy of national and institutional adherence to AML/CFT. It recommends and supports full compliance with the AML/CFT standards in order to protect all financial systems, within the region, from ongoing money laundering and terrorist financing risks offering ongoing training and education for its members.

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