Though Guyana has put legislation in place to address money laundering and other financial crimes, enforcement of the laws governing those crimes may be a problem. The United States, The United Kingdom and Canada are now offering help to assist in taking on the fight against financial crimes including money laundering. Guyana has welcomed the assistance.
The Western Diplomats and the European Commission joined forces on Wednesday as they hosted a stake holders meeting examining financial crimes. The meeting took place at the Grand Coastal Hotel and President Donald Ramotar in delivering the opening address said there is the need for international help and cooperation in combating financial crimes.
He focused on transnational crimes that may be intertwined with money laundering and the drug trade. The President said “Guyana joined the international community in combating transnational crimes when it enacted anti money laundering legislation”.
President Ramotar told the meeting that his administration appreciates the contributions that could be made by a properly run unit that tackles money laundering and other financial crimes.
The President said “rumours” about money laundering and its assistance to the local economy continue to be heard and there has even been an increase in the number of “rumours” and allegations being made about how money laundering may be propping up the local economy. The Government he said, intends to continue with the fight and he would like the support of the political opposition on the issue.
Ambassador of the United States to Guyana, Brent Hardt told the gathering of government, opposition, private and public sector officials that “money laundering and other financial crimes are a serious global threat”. He said “jurisdictions flooded with illicit funds are vulnerable to the breakdown of the rule of law, the corruption of public officials and destabilization of their economies. “
The U.S Ambassador noted that the development of new technologies and the possibility of linkages among illegal activities that generate proceeds, transnational criminal organizations, and the funding of terrorist groups have only exacerbated the challenges faced by the financial, law enforcement, supervisory, legal and intelligence communities.
Because of those challenges, “no economy is immune from the threat of financial criminal activity, and no nation can combat this threat alone”, the Ambassador said.
As part of the foreign help, the Government of Canada
The Government of Canada will be providing assistance to Guyana’s Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) under its Deployment for Democratic Development (DDD) Program. According to the Mr. Hardt, this engagement will provide for a specialist in anti-money laundering regulations, who will concentrate on high risk sectors.
The Guyana government has been pressed by the Opposition parties and the international community to do more in tackling money laundering and other financial crimes. Guyana is a transshipment point for the drug trade between South America and the United States and Europe.
Over the past decade, several Guyanese have been fingered in the drug trade and named in U.S Court documents as also having links to money laundering.