CANU, FIU sign MoU to tackle drug trafficking, money laundering
The Customs Anti-Narcotics Unit (CANU) and the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to tackle issues of drug trafficking and money laundering in Guyana.
On Wednesday, the National Anti-Narcotics Agency outlined that the MoU would allow for the exchange of information/intelligence relating to subjects suspected to be involved in or convicted of committing drug-related offences, in a proactive, timely, safe, and secure manner.
Moreover, the agreement provides the necessary safeguards against the misuse of information shared or exchanged.
Additionally, it provides for strict confidentiality of the information exchanged between the agencies.
Further, the MoU will allow for parallel investigations to be conducted against subjects suspected to be involved in drug trafficking and money laundering.
“Consequently, greater efficiency and effectiveness in our fight against these crimes will produce improved outcomes,” a press statement on the signing stated.
“Our agencies and the nation will, therefore, be further compliant with their international obligations and standards relating to fighting money laundering and drug trafficking. The challenges and implications that come with non-compliance, including but not limited to blacklisting and de-risking, will be further neutralised,” the statement added.
The FIU, established under the Anti-Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism (AMLCFT) Act of 2009, is the primary agency responsible for the collection and analysis of financial information and the dissemination of intelligence reports to law enforcement agencies for further investigation of money laundering, terrorist financing and related offences.
Under Section 9(4) (n) of the Act, the FIU is vested with the authority to enter into any agreements or arrangements with domestic Government institutions or agencies for sharing and/or exchanging information.
Satisfying the requirements of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) recommendations requires that the FIU cooperate and collaborate with all relevant stakeholder agencies and demonstrate effectiveness in sharing its intelligence product with law enforcement agencies and other appropriate authorities.
Effectiveness will be tested based on the quality and usefulness of the FIU’s intelligence product in furthering investigations for effective prosecutions, convictions, confiscation and forfeiture (both criminal, civil, or administrative processes) of assets which are derived from illegal activities, including but not limited to drug trafficking.
According to the two agencies, drug trafficking is one of the most common predicate offences of money laundering committed in Guyana. With CANU being one of the key agencies involved in the fight against the trafficking of illicit drugs and psychotropic substances in Guyana, the MoU is seen as a significant and important development in the country’s fight against drug trafficking, money laundering, and terrorist financing.
Two years ago, the United States Department of State’s International Narcotics Control Strategy Report (INCSR) Volume Two of March 2018 had listed Guyana, among many other countries, as “major money laundering jurisdictions in 2017”.
The Report had stated that there was a lack of strong interagency cooperation among anti-money laundering and drug-fighting agencies, adding that these departments did not have adequate human resources and the necessary training for complete effectiveness.
The report reiterated that Guyana was a transit country for South American cocaine destined for Europe, the Caribbean, and North America, noting that traffickers were attracted to Guyana’s remote airstrips, porous land borders, and weak security infrastructure.
The document had also recognised that the major agencies involved in anti-drug and money laundering efforts, such as the Guyana Police Force (GPF); Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA); the Special Organised Crimes Unit (SOCU); CANU and the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) were observed as not being effective enough owing to “inadequate human resources, insufficient training, and a lack of strong interagency cooperation”.