Granger warns Caribbean a ‘paradise’ for drug traffickers, money launderers


President David Granger Wednesday morning warned that the Caribbean region stands as a “paradise” for drug trafficking, money launderers, tax evaders and transnational criminal cartels, saying that the financial watchdog CFATF can help insulate the region.

Mr Granger was speaking at the official opening of the 46th Plenary of the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force (CFATF), which is taking place this week at the Marriott Hotel in Georgetown.

CFATF is an organisation of 27 states and territories of the Caribbean basin which have agreed to implement common counter-measures against money laundering and terrorism financing.

President said that the vast sea lanes of the Caribbean region make it vulnerable to nacro-trafficking between South and North America but that the recommendations of CFATF, could insulate the region from the effects “dirty money.” The President had noted that transnational crimes have potential corruption officials, subvert institutions, and spawn frightening levels of crime and violence in society.

As such, he said the recommendations of CFATF are necessary to insulate the Caribbean from money laundering and the financing of terrorism. He said too the Task Force’s recommendations can help to insulate the Region’s economies from contamination by ‘dirty’ money and by protecting the integrity of our financial sector from the risks associated with ill-gotten gains.

“The Task Force’s recommendations will help, also, to cultivate a stable financial sector that will allow for the facilitation of international trade and investment and enhance the interconnectedness between the Region’s financial sector and the global banking system in order to prevent our banks from being blacklisted,” the President stated.

In Guyana’s case, he said the legislation has helped to correct deficiencies in the anti-money laundering and countering the financing of terrorism regime and allowed for the improvement in compliance with the CFATF Task Force standards.

Speaker of the National Assembly, Hon. Dr. Barton Scotland, Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo, Ministers of Government and Members of the diplomatic corps at the Opening Ceremony of the 46th Plenary of the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force (CFATF) at the Marriott Hotel Guyana, this morning.

The President said that the Bank of Guyana, the Financial Intelligence Unit and the Director of Public Prosecutions are empowered with the authority and autonomy and equipped with the technical and institutional means to discharge their functions under the legislation.

This week CFATF Executive Director, Calvin Wilson congratulated Guyana on passing a suite of legislation, as recommended by CFATF, and was removed from a “blacklist” of the international parent watchdog – the Financial Action Task Force’s (FATF) blacklist.

To protect the international financial system from money laundering and financing of terrorism (ML/FT) risks and to encourage greater compliance with the AML/CFT standards, the CFATF identified jurisdictions that have strategic deficiencies and works with them to address those deficiencies that pose a risk to the international financial system.

Guyana was placed in the CFATF’s International Co-operation Review Group (ICRG) process in November 2011 and was publicly listed by the CFATF in May 2013.

President David Granger is led into the Conference by Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Mr. Basil Williams.

Having made “significant” progress in improving its AML/CFT regime and adequately addressing the key AML/CFT deficiencies identified, the CFATF Plenary of November 2016 agreed that Guyana be removed from the CFATF ICRG process and therefore Guyana was no longer subject to monitoring by CFATF ICRG.

Mr Wilson said despite Guyana’s progress, including removal from the blacklist, there is work to be done in the years ahead.

“Guyana needs to pay particular attention to their data capturing mechanisms and also educating all stakeholders …both public and private…coordinating closely, nationally to ensure that the internal mechanism in terms of strengthening the AML/CFT architecture, is strong,” Wilson was quoted by the Department of Public Information as saying.

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