The Parliamentary Committee on Appointments is moving ahead with the appointments of persons to function in the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) as well as the Anti-Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism (AMLCFT) Authority.
However, Member of the Committee Gail Teixeira today said the process is moving at a “slow and steady” pace. She disclosed that a substantial number of persons responded to the advertisement to fill the posts of Director, Deputy Director and accountant with a smaller number of applicants for the position of Attorney-a-law within the unit.
During a press conference today, Teixeira noted that the committee met last week and decided that the sub-committee will now develop the criteria by which persons will be selected for interviewing. The criteria will be looked at, in the coming week, after which persons will be short listed and interviewing will commence.
The FIU is responsible for requesting, receiving, analyzing and dissemination of suspicious transaction reports and other information relating to money laundering, terrorist financing or the proceeds of crime.
The body which will be comprised of 10 members, has been given much responsibility under the act to demand more from the FIU. It will give advice on policies to be followed by the unit in exercise of its functions. This is expected to significantly improve the way the FIU operates.
Teixeira disclosed that 10 Non-governmental Organizations (NGOs) were agree upon and will be approached to submit two names each for the AML/CFT Authority. “Letters will be going out to what we agreed to, a list of organisations (Non-Governmental Organisations) that are relevant to money laundering in which they are asked to provide one or two nominees…”.
The entity which has direct oversight of SOCU and is necessary for the anti-money laundering legislation, has been without a Director since the end of 2015, after the employment contract of Paul Geer expired.
The Parliamentary Committee on Appointments is chaired by Minister George Norton, Minister Cathy Hughes, Minister David Patteron, Minister Annette Ferguson, Minister Amna Ally, and is being represented by Opposition Members Ganga Persaud, Bishop Juan Edghil and Gail Teixeira.
Government is slated to take further amendments for the Anti-Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism (AMLCFT) Act to the National Assembly on May, 04, 2016. According to Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo, the new changes to the bill is to meet the new demands for enforcement, seizures and confiscation of assets used in money laundering and to answer to those organizations which Guyana reports.
In the meantime, Teixeira has stated that she was contacted by Government’s Chief Whip Amna Ally who asked for the opposition’s support to carry the bill through all three stages on the May, 04 sitting of the National Assembly, however the party refused.
“The Chief Whip…asked whether we will be supporting the amendments going through all three stages on May, 04. Our answer was a resounding no, that we will not support the bill going through all three stages at one sitting”, she said.
Teixeira added that “No one is aware what these amendments are…to the bill, therefore we will not be accepting these fresh amendments coming through on May, 04. We encouraged the Chief Whip that we meet the following week to go through segment in stages, even though the principle…is that these large and complex amendments should go to a Parliamentary Select Committee”.
Rushing the amendments through the next sitting of the National Assembly is allegedly to be prepared for the next meeting with the Financial Action Taskforce (FATF).
Efforts to contact the Government Chief Whip has proven to be futile. However, Minister of Legal Affairs Basil Williams, when contacted noted that Guyana is slated to meet with FATF in June 2016.