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Guyana: 5 year plan to tackle money laundering, other crimes

March 8, 2023

CMC – The Guyana government has unveiled its five-year National Policy and Strategy aimed at combatting money laundering, terrorism financing, and the financing of proliferation.

The policy provides a guide to the actions to be undertaken to improve Guyana’s effectiveness in mitigating these crimes and promises to intensify the fight against these financial crimes.

The five-year plan makes specific recommendations to improve the State’s enforcement arms toward better investigations and more convictions.

The policy covers a range of government agencies and private sector entities including the Attorney General’s Chambers, the Chambers of the Director of Public Prosecution, the Financial Intelligence Unit, the Guyana Police Force, Department of Energy, the Guyana Revenue Authority, commercial banks, insurance companies and brokers, money transfer agencies, credit unions and security companies among others.

Explaining that money laundering and its related crimes could have a negative impact on the economy, the government through the policy notes that these reprehensible crimes directly and indirectly contribute to the erosion of the rule of law, threatens political instability, encourages corruption and weakens the financial sector.

“An increase in these crimes could result in a loss of confidence in a country’s financial system and the institutions that are necessary for good governance,” it added.

The government said it is therefore imperative to have a strong legal regime in place in order to provide law enforcement agencies and prosecutors with sufficient legal powers and tools to detect and disrupt criminals and terrorists’ activities by bringing perpetrators to justice, and depriving them of their assets through fines, confiscation and asset recovery.

According to the most recent National Risk Assessment (NRA) Report, Guyana’s money laundering risk is “Medium High”, as its threats and vulnerability levels are also medium high.

“It was also noted in Guyana’s Second NRA Report that Guyana is a transit country for cocaine destined to North America, Europe, West Africa and the Caribbean because of its unique geographical location. Guyana shares borders with Venezuela, Brazil and Suriname and most of these borders are situated in the hinterland region which is heavily forested.

“Particularly, Venezuela is known to be politically unstable and a transhipment point for illicit drugs. Cocaine originating in Colombia is smuggled to Venezuela and then to Guyana by sea or air,” the government explained.

Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Anil Nandlall anticipates that the implementation of the National Policy and Strategy will not only bring Guyana in compliance with international obligations but will be the menu of organised strategic and targeted actions that will create a robust and resilient protective network, that will insulate Guyana and its financial system from being contaminated by the proceeds of crime.

The plan proposes improvements to the investigating and prosecuting capabilities of the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) which was first established in 2004 under the Money Laundering Prevention Act of 2000.

That Act was repealed and replaced by the Anti-Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT) Act No. 13 of 2009.

The FIU will enhance its internal capabilities by continuing to increase and train its staff; it will request access (both legally and operationally) to any additional databases it needs to gather sufficient intelligence to support its analyses; it will also develop and implement information technology tools that would enable it to facilitate and enhance its analytical capabilities.

“This is all towards the FIU ensuring its improvement of the quality of its Intelligence Gathering and Processing,” according to the document.

The other actions to be taken by the FIU includes the continuous development of additional capabilities in the longer term, such as an increased focus on strategic analyses to identify trends and patterns and support the establishment of policies and goals to further strengthen AML/CFT supervision.

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