Guyana still suffering effects of APNU/AFC’s AML/CFT mismanagement – AG

Attorney General Anil Nandlall, SC

Many of the financial constraints that Guyanese still face in the financial sector are as a result of the years of progress lost whenever the A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change (APNU/AFC) held a majority in the National Assembly.
This was according to Attorney General and Legal Affairs Minister Anil Nandlall, during a recently-broadcasted interview. He explained that the financial systems in the Region were interconnected and what happened in Guyana had an effect on other countries’ Anti-Money Laundering/Countering the Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT) efforts.
Nandlall recalled that during the previous period of the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) Government, the then Opposition APNU/AFC had refused to support the Government in passing the necessary AML/CFT amendments to avoid sanctions.
This was so even though representatives from various regional organisations pleaded with the then Opposition to help pass the bills, which were not supposed to be political but rather a fulfilment of Guyana’s international obligations.
“I had the obligation of flying around the Region to explain this thing, including to go to the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force [CFATF] conferences to report on Guyana’s inability to pass these laws. And to give the reason why,” Nandlall recalled.
“You know what the people told me? They are not concerned with which political party and why that political party refuses to pass the law. Guyana is being judged and Guyana’s Parliament refused to pass the law. So, Guyana will be sanctioned. And sanctioned we were.”
Nandlall emphasised that Guyana must never forget what the APNU/AFC have done, in or out of Government, to delay progress on the AML/CFT structure. He noted that APNU/AFC voted down at least three AML/CFT amendments brought to the National Assembly.
“Up to now, we are still working to dismantle some of the obstacles and hardships that were imposed as part of the regime of sanctions. And we’ve not been able to complete that process. That is why ordinary Guyanese listening to me are still going through a very difficult time if they wish to conduct straightforward transactions at commercial banks across the country.
“Including the opening of an account. Including the transferal of money from one account to another account. They go through a lot of rigorous processes. And a host of unnecessary information are requested of them. All of this, the Opposition must take responsibility for,” the AG said.
The CFATF only recently completed its onsite visit and assessment of Guyana’s AML/CFT framework and has since applauded the steps Guyana has taken to fix the framework.
According to a statement from the Legal Affairs Ministry, the CFATF team completed its onsite visit and assessment of Guyana’s compliance with the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) Recommendations and Methodology on Friday last.
During this visit, they interviewed and examined a number of Government Ministries, law enforcement agencies, State agencies, financial institutions, as well as Private Sector and professional organisations.
The Ministry explained that following the assessment, the CFATF team found that Guyana, as a jurisdiction, had made satisfactory progress and was praised during the exercise. According to the Ministry, the CFATF team lead Avelon Perry and her team presented a summary of their initial findings to the Attorney General and the AML/CFT National Coordination Committee.
Meanwhile, final discussions with regard to the 4th Round Mutual Evaluation of Guyana is expected to be concluded in May/June 2024 at the CFATF Plenary, which will be held in Trinidad and Tobago.
Additionally, a preliminary Mutual Evaluation report will be sent for Guyana’s review and input within the next six weeks after the completion of the onsite visit. It was explained that upon that review, and the conclusion of those engagements, a final evaluation report will be completed and submitted to the plenary.