FATF, ICRG officials to visit Guyana in September

… country cleared to commence exit process from watch list

Following a successful 10th Follow-Up Report to the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force (CFATF), Guyana is steps closer to being removed from both the CFATF and FATF regimes after it was recently given clearance to commence the exiting process.

This was announced by Attorney General and Legal Affairs Minister Basil Williams, who recently returned from the ‘FATF Plenary and Working Group Meetings’ held in Busan, Korea.

He was joined by Legal Advisor of the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU), Alicia Williams, who is currently performing functions of the Director.

“The FATF has cleared the way for Guyana to begin to exit its process, and thereupon there CFATF process also,” the Attorney General told reporters at a press conference on Saturday.

He further stated that the Plenary has adopted the FATF/International Co-operation Review Group (ICRG) Co-Chairs’ Report, which recognised that “Guyana has substantially completed its Action Plan at the technical level”.

However, Minister Williams pointed out that before Guyana can exit FATF and CFATF, it must first exit the FATF/ICRG review process. The ICRG analyses high-risk jurisdictions and recommend specific action to address the Money Laundering/Financing Terrorism (ML/FT) risks emanating from these countries.To this end, the Attorney General noted that an on-site visit will have to be conducted.

“In line with the procedures for removing jurisdictions from the ICRG review, ICRG recommends that an on-site visit take place to the country prior to the October 2016 meetings in order to verify that the implementation of its AML/CFT (Anti-Money Laundering/Countering the Financing of Terrorism) reforms has begun and is being sustained and there is political commitment to sustain implementation,” Williams said, quoting the report.

These reforms include adequately criminalising of money laundering and terrorist financing, establishing and implementing adequate procedures for the confiscation of assets related to money laundering, and establishing and implementing an adequate legal framework for identifying, tracing and freezing terrorist assets; as well as establishing a fully operational effectively functioning financial intelligence unit, establishing effective measures for customer due diligence and enhancing financial transparency, strengthening suspicious transaction reporting requirements, and implementing an adequate supervisory framework.

“The on-site visit will therefore relate to the verification of the implementation of these seven reforms,” Williams said. Among the local bodies to be under scrutiny by the FATF/ICRG Co-Chairs are: FIU, Special Organised Crime Unit (SOCU), Bank of Guyana (BOG), Guyana Securities Council, the Department of Co-operatives and Friendly Societies (DCFS), the Supervisor of Insurance (SOI), money transfer agencies and commercial banks.

The Legal Affairs Minister said the on-site visit is likely to be on September 15 and 16. In the meanwhile, he said Government will be working along with these entities to ensure that they are prepared for the verification process.

Moreover, he noted that once Guyana satisfies the visiting team then Guyana’s exiting will be imminent.

“Once the FATF/ICRG Co-Chairs conclude that Guyana has satisfied its on-site verification then a motion will have to be moved in the October Plenary, to remove Guyana from the FATF/ICRG’s review list. On being removed from the said list, Guyana will thereupon qualify to exit the CFATF follow-up process,” Williams remarked.

Already, CFATF has given Guyana a clean bill of health on its 10th Follow-up Report, which the Attorney General noted was the coalition Government’s first submission. This was at the ‘CFATF Plenary Meeting and Working Groups Agenda’ held in Montego Bay, Jamaica, on June 5 and 9, 2016.

At that meeting, the regional watch body said “Guyana has significantly improved its overall level of compliance and most importantly, Guyana has fully addressed the core and key recommendations.

While Guyana satisfies the criteria for application to exit the follow-up process, it is still in the FATF/ICRG process which its needs to complete first. As such it is recommended that Guyana stay in enhanced follow-up and be required to report on continuing implementation to the next Plenary in November.”