AML Bill passed in National Assembly

June 27, 2015 6:00 am Category: latest news A+ / A-

 

By Jomo Paul

Attorney General, Basil Williams.

Attorney General, Basil Williams.

[www.inewsguyana.com] – After close to three years in the National Assembly, the Anti-Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism Bill (AML/CFT) 2015 was passed in the House on Friday, June 26 in the absence of the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) opposition. 

The Bill was presented to the house on Thursday, June 25 for its first reading by Attorney General, Basil Williams and read for the second time on Friday, where it attracted the support of all 33 members of Parliament on the government side.

The contentious piece of legislation will now be signed into law by President David Granger. Williams told the House that the Bill has had a “checkered history in this house,” but it is now time that Guyana moves on. 

He addressed criticisms of the Bill by the PPP/C which was absent from the House on Friday. The Opposition had stated that the Bill does not conform to the guidelines set out by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), while noting that several lacunae and excessive were listed within the amendments to the 2009

 

Principal Act. Parliament

The APNU+AFC made additional amendments to the Bill, including Sections 8 & 9 which deals with the establishment of an AML/CFT Authority from which members will be appointed by the National Assembly, and removing the powers of the Minister to appoint the Director of the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) and the power of the President to dismiss the Director and placing these powers in the Authority.

“The members of the Opposition, who it would appear are waiting anxiously for us to pass this Bill without them…The main changes that we had proposed to the parent Act related to the governance…I don’t know where the criticism comes from that 65 persons cannot be better than one person,” said AG Williams on Friday. 

He maintained that the process to now overlook the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) is transparent and would actually serve for the betterment of the unit, contrary to what is being said by the PPP. 

“I don’t know where you can find a more transparent process than that…This authority (Parliamentary Management Authority) is not intended to rob the FIU of their independence, in fact the legislation states clearly that the authority will not interfere in the day to day runnings of the FIU,” Williams pointed out. 

In the new Bill, Clause 17 inserts a new section – 37A in the Principal Act to provide that a police officer, a customs officer or a person authorised by the Director of the Financial Intelligence Unit may seize and detain cash anywhere in Guyana where the amount is more than ten million dollars. 

It also stated that this is done when authorities have reasonable grounds for suspecting, for instance, that the currency is derived from a serious offence or is involved in money laundering or terrorist financing. 

At the moment, by law, a person is only allowed to have $2M on his person; however this stipulation is widely ignored. Former Attorney General Nandlall told iNews on Wednesday, June 24 that the amendment places upon the citizenry an undue burden of establishing that their money is not the proceeds of money laundering or crime 

But according to Williams, before law enforcement acts in such a manner they would have to be strapped with evidence of a wrongdoing. 

“They cannot seize cash from persons in the process of business, commerce, trade or such activity…they have to be armed with information with evidence given to them by FIU and SOCU – so if anyone is approached it must be that they are armed with that evidence,” said the Attorney General. 

“If they made a whimsical detention and seizure then they cannot be spared, they will be exposed; it is malicious prosecution,” he added. 

Original Post

Quote "In the new Bill, Clause 17 inserts a new section – 37A in the Principal Act to provide that a police officer, a customs officer or a person authorised by the Director of the Financial Intelligence Unit may seize and detain cash anywhere in Guyana where the amount is more than ten million dollars." unquote

 

I do not see anything wrong with the above as who in their right mind would want to walk around with ten million dollars, most of the big or very big transactions can be done in the Banks.

Govt passes new AML/CFT Bill

…despite PPP/C objections 

By Gomatie Gangadin

Despite fierce objection by the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C), the new A Partnership for National Unity+Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC) Government on Friday evening passed the highly controversial Anti-Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT) Amendment Bill 2015, paving the way for all financial transactions in the country to be monitored.

The Bill, which was introduced by Attorney General and Legal Affairs Minister Basil Williams just after 19:00h on Friday, was seconded by Finance Minister Winston Jordan, who said that in order for investment to bloom in the country, it was important that the Bill be passed, before it can subsequently be signed into law.

Jordan said that investors with whom he has met are willing to plug finances into the economy, but have expressed that their only condition would be to see the AML/CFT Bill passed and made into law. “This Bill represents the Government’s firm resolve to counter money laundering and the fighting on terrorism. The impact of money laundering on a country’s financial system can be quite severe. It can lead to large-scale insolvency…,” the Finance Minister said.

In presenting the Bill to Parliament, Williams detailed the two years of back-and-forth arguments in the National Assembly which had led to its non-passage and the subsequent blacklisting of the country by the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force (CFATF).  “This Bill has had a chequered past in this House. I seek to amend the Anti-Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism Bill Act Chapter 10 and 11 and related legislation by strengthening the regime to combat money laundering and countering the financing of terrorism.”

Williams reminded that the Bill was first presented in the National Assembly on April 22, 2013 as Bill No 12 for 2013.  It was debated for the second time on May 10, 2013. Following its second reading, the Bill was committed to a Special Select Committee of the National Assembly for consideration.  At a meeting held on August 2, 2013, the Special Select Committee agreed that the Bill could be resent to the National Assembly. “That did not include members of the Opposition, then the Government. The report was formally submitted on November 7, 2013 at the third reading. The Bill was again introduced on December 12, 2013…,” Williams detailed as he declared that “it is now the Government’s Bill, this is our Bill”.

Amendments were made to Section 37 (A) and another section where the Director of the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) was previously appointed by the Minister of Finance or the President.  Describing the situation as “untenable”, the Attorney General said that an independent authority will now be placed over the FIU with the National Assembly having oversight. This independent body will advertise for and scrutinise persons for the position of Director and Deputy Director of the Unit.

Evidence-based According to Williams, the PPP/C’s rejection of Amendment 37 (A) to allow Senior Police and Customs Officers to seize monies in excess of $10 million in cash in a person’s possession, once the money is suspected to be the proceeds of money laundering or to finance terrorism, had no firm ground as he sought to explain in detail what it meant and how the clause will work.

“It can’t be done whimsically; it requires cogent evidence that means they cannot seize cash in possession of persons doing business or engaged in trade or commerce. They can’t wake up and target people; they must be armed with information and evidence given to them,” Williams noted. He assured the House that any acts of victimisation using this particular amendment, which has generated a lot of interest, will expose law enforcement officials to prosecution.

In the meantime, Williams related the CFATF will now have to scrutinise the document to ensure that it was in full compliance with its regulations, so that Guyana can enjoy the confidence of the body and other countries it has transactions with.

It was earlier this week that the PPP/C said that the proposed Anti-Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism (Amendment) Bill contained some provisions that have been rejected by the CFATF as well as the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) and Government ran the risk of passing into a law a bill that may not be compliant with international requirements.

Guyana was referred by FATF to its Americas Review Group In September 2014 and went before this body on two occasions (most recent April 2015) to work on an agreed Action Plan with targets and six monthly reports to ensure targets were being achieved. These targets included legislative and non-legislative interventions.

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