…AG says aggressive anti-corruption campaign bearing fruit
GUYANA has been officially removed from the European Commission’s Money-Laundering Blacklist, while countries like Saudi Arabia, Panama and Nigeria have been added.
Since May, 2017, the European Commission had proposed that Guyana be removed from the money-laundering blacklist but for a second time that year, the European Parliament rejected the list. Guyana had openly objected.
On Wednesday, the European Commission adopted a new list of 23 countries with strategic deficiencies in their anti-money laundering and counter-terrorist financing frameworks, and Guyana was not included. Other countries like Bosnia, Loa, Uganda and Vanuatu have also been removed.
Guyana’s Attorney General and Legal Affairs Minister, Basil Williams, said this new development augurs well for the people of Guyana, particularly at a time when it prepares for first oil in 2020. He said it is also testimony of President David Granger’s determination to fight corruption in whatever form. “From the onset, President Granger had given a high-level commitment to the Financial Action Task Force regarding Guyana’s position on combating money laundering and he has followed-up with ensuring that his government works towards that,” Williams said. He added: “As a government policy, we have been pursuing the combating of money laundering and financing of terrorism and also combatting weapons of mass destruction. So our policies are bearing fruit,” Minister Williams told the Guyana Chronicle on Thursday.
He said the A Partnership for National Unity + Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC) government has been consistently cleaning the economy of “dirty money” through the implementation of anti-corruption measures.
Williams said it is clear that the international community has taken note of the efforts of the government. The Legal Affairs Ministry has been raising awareness among the people, through regional interaction, on the dangers of money laundering. They are being taught how to safeguard the economy.
“It is important in the context of being on the cusp of transforming into an oil economy, that we ensure that we have good money, that we make preparations for the good money that will flow from legitimate endeavors. So we have to continue this struggle,” the attorney general told this newspaper.
Under the EU’s Anti-Money Laundering Directive, the commission is responsible for producing an inventory of countries thought to be at risk of money laundering, tax evasion and terrorism financing. The list is intended to protect the EU financial system by better preventing money laundering and terrorist financing risks.
The new list now includes: Afghanistan, American Samoa, the Bahamas, Botswana, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Ethiopia, Ghana, Guam, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Nigeria, Pakistan, Panama, Puerto Rico, Samoa, Saudi Arabia, Sri Lanka, Syria, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, US Virgin Islands, and Yemen.
“As a result of the listing, banks and other entities covered by EU anti-money laundering rules will be required to apply increased checks (due diligence) on financial operations involving customers and financial institutions from these high-risk countries, to better identify any suspicious money flows,” the European Commission explained.
On the basis of a new methodology, which reflects the stricter criteria of the fifth anti-money laundering directive in force since July 2018, the list has been established following an in-depth analysis.
V?ra Jourová, Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality, said with the new methodology in place, the criteria are stricter. “We have established the strongest anti-money laundering standards in the world, but we have to make sure that dirty money from other countries does not find its way to our financial system. Dirty money is the lifeblood of organised crime and terrorism. I invite the countries listed to remedy their deficiencies swiftly. The commission stands ready to work closely with them to address these issues in our mutual interest,” Jourová said.
The list was compiled on the basis of an analysis of 54 priority jurisdictions, which was prepared by the commission in consultation with the Member States, and made public on 13th November 2018.
People and legal entities from blacklisted countries face tougher than usual checks when doing business in the EU. In compiling these lists, the commission depends heavily on the international body, the Financial Action Task Force (FATF).