The People’s Progressive Party will not be in Parliament for Thursday’s presentation and passage of the Anti Money Laundering Amendment Bill, but the party is concerned that the new government has added amendments to the Bill that were not requested by international Financial Action Task Force and may not be in compliance with the recommendations of the same Task Force.
At a Wednesday morning press conference, PPP Executive Member and former Member of Parliament, Gail Teixiera said it appears as though the new APNU+AFC government is trying to “prove a point” by adding amendments to the Bill that the PPP did not agree with while it was in government.
She fears that the move by the government could result in Guyana being blacklisted since she is convinced that the updated bill will not be in compliance with the Financial Action Task Force.
“Bill #4 2015 is not in compliance with the FATF recommendations. The PPPC therefore has no choice but to oppose Bill # 4 2015 and to recommend that FATF be consulted soonest on this said Bill”, Teixiera announced.
When asked if the party would not have a clearer voice on the issue from within the National Assembly, the former Presidential Advisor said the government has the majority and appears set to move ahead with the bill whether the PPP is in or out of Parliament.
She raised concern about the proposed Amendment to Section 37 which seeks to extend “the powers of a police officer or customs officer to seize and detain cash (G$10 M or more) anywhere in Guyana upon suspicion that such cash is derived from a serious offence, will be used to commit a serious offence, involved in Money Laundering or where a false declaration was made, and also giving these same powers to the Financial Intelligence Unit”. The PPP said the amendment is not a specific requirement of the FATF.
The party’s greatest concern however is the amendment which deals with the appointment and termination of the Director and Deputy Director of the Financial Intelligence Unit. The PPP believes it is the government that should be in charge of area. The APNU+AFC believes the National Assembly should do the determination.
“This is clearly untenable. Here are Politically Exposed Persons (PEPs) in the National Assembly as defined by the FATF determining who is the Director and 3 key persons in the FIU. This amendment flies in the face of the requirement that the FIU is “insulated and autonomous from any interference in its operations and oversight”. Certainly it is possible that some of these same PEPs and others they consult may come under the radar of the FIU. Therefore, it is not implausible to deduce that Director and these identified members of the FIU would be compromised as the National Assembly by a simple majority with no cause could terminate any of them at whim.”
The PPP is convinced that the move by the government is a step in the wrong direction. Guyana comes up for review by the Caribbean Financial Task Force and the Financial Action Task Force later this year. The government intends to have legislation in place long before that meeting.