MoneyGram blocks PNC/R’s Aubrey Norton
…following money laundering and U.S sanction guidelines
MoneyGram, an international money transfer company based in the United States, has blacklisted Guyanese politician Aubrey Norton who is currently seeking election to become the next leader of the main opposition party – the People’s National Congress Reform (PNC/R).
In a Facebook post on Saturday, Norton alleged political discrimination and called for persons to boycott the money transfer company.
But the News Room understands that MoneyGram was only following guidelines linked to its global and domestic anti-money laundering obligation. It has always been strict in that regard. It is also common for remittance services to monitor the names of politicians, especially those who would be on the radar of the United States (U.S) government.
Some persons from the APNU+AFC coalition, of which the PNC/R holds the majority representation, were known to have been sanctioned by the U.S government and had their visas revoked over alleged attempts to rig the March 2020 elections.
While names were not publicized, it is believed that many high-profile APNU+AFC persons are still under sanctions by the U.S and other governments.
It was only on Friday that Norton disclosed that his campaign was being funded by party comrades both in Guyana and abroad.
Speaking about his experience with MoneyGram, where it is suspected that funds were being sent to support his campaign, Norton said, “I had my own experience with political discrimination at MoneyGram this morning.”
He claimed that when he went to a location and gave the cashier the reference number, she immediately told him that his transfer needs to be approved by the company’s headquarters.
“She proceeded to tell me this is so because I am a political figure,” he claimed.
Norton believes that his “right” was violated. “No business should discriminate against anyone based on political affiliation,” he said.
“I wish to call on Guyanese generally to boycott MoneyGram and signal to them that political discrimination will not be tolerated and that there must be consequences for MoneyGram unacceptable and ludicrous behavior,” the politician noted.
It is a common practice for agents at MoneyGram to ask persons receiving or sending monies about their association to persons in the government and politics.
According to the Financial Intelligence Unit Guideline No.3 of 2017, Norton seems to fall into the category of a Politically Exposed Person (PEP); this guideline instructs financial institutions to make this determination when conducting transactions.
Politically Exposed Persons are considered as high-risk customers mainly because of their position of influence.
The aim of this guideline is to assist reporting entities in implementing the obligations of the Anti-Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism Act 2009 (as amended), as they relate to the establishment and maintenance of business relationships with PEPs.
A Politically Exposed Person (PEP) is an individual who is or has been entrusted with prominent public functions on behalf of a State, including a Head of State or of Government, Senior Politicians, Senior Government, Judicial or Military Officials, Senior Executives of State-Owned Corporations, important political parties officials, including family members or close associates of the politically exposed person, whether that person is resident in Guyana.