Findings of CFATF 2-week assessment of Guyana being misrepresented

Dear Editor,
The Caribbean Financial Action Task Force (CFATF) on September 15, 2023, concluded its two-week on-site assessment of Guyana’s Anti-Money Laundering/Countering the Financing of Terrorism/Countering Proliferation Financing (AML/CFT/CPF) architecture as part of the country’s international compliance obligations under the Financial Action Task Force’s (FATF) Standards and Methodology.
At the conclusion of the exercise, the mission leader of the Assessment Team, Ms Avelon Perry, Financial Advisor of the CFATF presented a summary of the team’s initial high-level findings to the National Coordinating Committee (NCC).
In their report, the assessors lauded Guyana’s effort at identifying and mitigating money laundering/terrorism financing activities and highlighted policy decisions, including the enactment of key legislation, which has enabled the country to do so. They also mentioned shortcomings within the country’s AML/CFT/CPF architecture, one of which is a need for increased resources for the Treaty Office within the Ministry of Home Affairs to effectively carry out its functions, noting however, that the country has demonstrated the ability to use formal and informal mechanisms for international cooperation.
In a section of the media on Monday, September 18, 2023, an article with the headline “CFATF assessment finds unified approach, resources to tackle money laundering lacking in Guyana” was published.
Nowhere in the report is there a finding that there is a lack of “resources to tackle money laundering in Guyana”. It would appear, therefore, that the singular observation by the assessors of a need for increased resources for the Treaty Office within the Ministry of Home Affairs was ingeniously used to convey the impression that there is a lack of resources across the national AML/CFT spectrum. This constitutes a gross misrepresentation of the assessors’ finding which we take the opportunity to swiftly reject.
To put this into perspective, it should be noted that during the on-site evaluation, the Assessment Team interviewed various Ministers, Officials, and Heads of Agencies including from the Attorney General’s Chambers and the Ministry of Legal Affairs, the Ministry of Finance, the Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs and Governance, the Ministry of Natural Resources, the Ministry of Home Affairs, the Judiciary, the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions and the Office of the Commissioner of Police.
Representatives from the Guyana Revenue Authority, the Deeds and Commercial Registry Authorities, the Central Bank of Guyana, the Guyana Securities Council, the Guyana Police Force, the Customs Anti-Narcotics Unit, the Guyana Geology and Gold Mines Commission, the Guyana Gold Board, Real Estate Associations, local banks, insurance companies, accountants, and cambios were also interviewed. These organisations combined, among others, and their representatives form the country’s AML/CFT/CPF structure.
The AML/CFT NCC chaired by the Hon Mohabir Anil Nandlall SC MP, Attorney General & Minister of Legal Affairs has always demonstrated the Government’s readiness and commitment to ensuring Guyana’s compliance with the FATF Standards and other international best practices aimed at protecting Guyana’s and the international financial systems from money laundering, terrorism financing, and proliferation financing and the proceeds of crime. This manifested through various measures, including the completion of Guyana’s 2021 AML/CFT/CPF National Risk Assessment, and the enactment of the Guyana Compliance Commission Act 2023, the Real Estate and Brokers Act 2023 and the AML/CFT (Amendment) Act 2023. Importantly, this has been done in a transparent manner, ensuring the public, with the support of the media, is continuously kept aware of the country’s ongoing efforts and activities to ensure its readiness to demonstrate full compliance with international expectations in this regard.
Professionals from public and private agencies and entities have worked tirelessly to ensure Guyana left no stone unturned so as to meet the expectations of international observers and regulators. In these regards, conscious of the effort placed into preparing for the on-site evaluation, the Guyana delegation found the preliminary findings of the Assessment Team to be favourable.
Noteworthy, most publications recognised the good work done by Guyana and the mostly favourable findings of the preliminary report as reflected by their headlines and extensive reports in every instance.
This, of course, is with the exception of the media outlet, whose headline and focus of their report sought to highlight the few shortcomings and recommendations of the report of preliminary findings mentioned in a press release issued by the Attorney General’s Chambers and Ministry of Legal Affairs on September 17, 2023.
We do not believe that this is fair, based on the hard work put in by the Guyana team. The article and certainly its headline are therefore not an accurate reflection of the preliminary findings and the public statement released, and not a demonstration of good journalism by the media outlet.
The headline on its own sends a very inaccurate perception of the general findings of the review and to some degree the very article published by the local newspaper.
We are unsure of the motive behind the headline and the focus of the article. Whatever it may be, it is unfortunate. Unsurprisingly, its headline and highlights were also in drastic contrast to nearly 10 other reports by the public and private print and electronic media based on the same press release issued by the Attorney General’s Chambers and Ministry of Legal Affairs. This constitutes jaundiced reporting.
In closing, we again highlight that these are indeed preliminary findings of the CFATF on-site review shared based on our commitment to openness and transparency. The report will now go through multiple iterations of updates and reviews over the next few months. The final report of Guyana’s Mutual Evaluation will be completed and approved at the CFATF Plenary scheduled for Trinidad and Tobago in May of 2024.

Ministry of Legal Affairs