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Guyana's failure to obey FATF alarms Caribbean financial centres

Thursday, 13 March, 2014

Caribbean heads of state are urging Guyana to rush through the enactment of an anti-money laundering bill, in order to stop the country's blacklisting by the international Financial Action Task Force.

Last May, Caribbean's regional FATF named Guyana as a jurisdiction with 'significantly deficient' anti-money-laundering legislation. It gave Guyana's government six months to implement its recommendations for new legislation.

The government duly introduced a Anti-Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism (Amendment) Bill into its National Assembly. But opposition parties – that have a one-seat majority in the Assembly  ̶  blocked its progress. Accordingly, in November last year, a further CFATF meeting voted to put Guyana on its regional blacklist.

At the same time CFATF gave Guyana a further deadline of 28 February, after which it begin the process that would lead to the global imposition of sanctions on Guyana by FATF member states. This deadline too has now been missed, again due to sabotaging last-minute amendments tabled by the opposition.

Now, at Tuesday's meeting of Caribbean Community (Caricom) countries, members called on Guyana's government to make every effort to enact the new law. They warned that international blacklisting of Guyana could cause serious economic damage to the whole region.

Barbados' Prime Minister, Feundel Stuart, also wrote directly to Guyana President Donald Ramotar to express his concerns: 'Without any doubt, this situation and the threatened action by CFATF will affect Guyana and the entire Caribbean region, and will negatively impact the well-being of our people.'

Guyana's position will be considered by a full FATF meeting in May. If the impasse is not resolved by then, it is likely to be referred for sanctions.