Saving Guyana and averting a Regional Crisis

The Honorable Allyson Maynard Gibson, Attorney General of The Bahamas in her capacity as Chair of the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force (CFATF) called for and undertook a High Level Mission to Guyana on Saturday 28 April 2014. Accompanying her was CFATF Executive Director Mr. Calvin Wilson.

The driving principle for the Mission was a clear belief that there was a personal and corporate obligation to do all that was necessary to alert both the Government and Opposition of Guyana on the serious implications of their inability to pass Anti-Money Laundering and Combating the Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT) legislation that was in keeping with the FATF Recommendations, in good time ahead to the next CFATF Plenary Meeting at the end of May 2014. On offer was technical assistance from the CFATF Secretariat and the wider CFATF membership.

The Mutual Evaluation Program is the core work of the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force (CFATF) and all CFATF Members, as signatories to the CFATF Memorandum of Understanding and by virtue of having signed and ratified the United Nations Vienna, Palermo and Terrorist Financing Conventions, have agreed to attain the highest levels of compliance with the FATF Recommendations.

The Third Round of CFATF Mutual Evaluations was completed at the end of 2012 and whilst there is good news through the favorable accomplishments of some Members which can be described as Centres of Excellence, institutionally, the average level of compliance by the CFATF membership was a less than satisfactory forty (40) percent. It is therefore imperative that all AML/CFT deficiencies identified in the Third Round Mutual Evaluation Reports must be expeditiously rectified before Member countries commence the Fourth Round.

The Fourth Round of Mutual Evaluations will commence in January 2015 and within the global AML/CFT network, it is accepted that the requirements will be very onerous and will require the commitment of a significant amount of human and financial resources. The collective goal for the CFATF as outlined in Madam Chair Hon. Allyson Maynard Gibson’s Work Programme for 2013-2014, is the need for each CFATF Member to attain at least seventy five (75) percent compliance with the FATF Recommendations during the Fourth Round.

Guyana’s level of compliance with the FATF Recommendations during the Third Round was less than satisfactory and the CFATF as part of its Follow up process had issued two Public Statements due to Guyana’s non responsiveness to the call for urgent reform.

The overall goal of the Mission was to deescalate the tension that existed between the parties so that any ensuing dialogue could occur within an atmosphere which was conducive to seizing the moment, enacting the legislation and averting the economic calamity that would ensue.

From either side of the political divide the response to participating in the CFATF Mission was immediate and positive. The CFATF Team met with His Excellency Donald Ramoutar, President of Guyana and his team of senior Ministers who comprised Attorney General Mr. Anil Nandall, Finance Minister Dr. Ashni Singh, Minister within the Ministry of Finance Mr. Juan Edghill and Ms. Gail Teixeira, Presidential Adviser on Governance.

From the Opposition side the team of CFATF officials met with Leader for the Alliance for Change (AFC) Mr. Khemraj Ramjattan, Mrs. Kathy Hughes and Mr. Dominic Gaskin and from the A Partnership for National Unity (APNU), Vice Chairman Dr. Rupert Roopnarine, Mr. Joseph Harmon, Mr. Carl Greenidge and Mr. Basil Williams, Mr. Ronald Bulkhan, Mr. Winston Felix and Mr. Ernest Elliot.

The CFATF Team also met with members of the Private Sector Commission and CARICOM Secretary General Irwin LaRocque.
Madam Chair Maynard Gibson would like to extend her sincerest thanks to all the officials who were available for this twenty four hour visit.

Saving Guyana and Averting a Regional Crisis

CFATF Secretariat- May 1st 2014

CFATF strikes gold

The Right Honourable Perry Christie, Prime Minister, The Commonwealth of The BahamasTHE “DEAN OF THE CARIBBEAN” TO BE CFATF PATRON
“I am prepared to assume the role of Patron of the CFATF to champion its work with his colleagues within CARICOM and around the world as well as with regional and international institutions.”

In this spectacular sentence, The Right Honourable Perry Christie, Prime Minister, The Commonwealth of The Bahamas, fondly known as the “Dean of the Caribbean” burnished his credentials as a strong and avid supporter of the Caribbean Basin Region and his country integral position in the Caribbean Community.

Ministers, Attorneys General and senior officials attending the First CFATF Regional Anti Money Laundering and Combating the Financing of Terrorism Conference, were delighted at the announcement, which would give a significantly higher profile to the CFATF and a sustained focus on FATF President Valdimir Nechaev’s assessment that “CFATF is without a doubt one of the best in its class”.

Without hesitation and warming to his responsibilities of CFATF Patron Prime Minister Christie called for the establishment of “the CFATF Council of Elders”, “a forum where current and former CFATF Chairmen could meet as circumstances dictate, to review issues facing the organization and its membership, to provide guidance and to undertake strategic intervention to assist in accomplishing CFATF objectives”

Underscoring the importance of high levels of compliance with the FATF Recommendations to the survival of the International Financial Services sector which plays a dominant role in generating revenues for regional governments, the Right Honourable Prime Minister supported the call by the Honourable Allyson Maynard Gibson, Attorney General, Commonwealth of the Bahamas and Chair of the Caribbean Financial Action task Force, (CFATF) for at least seventy five (75) percent compliance at the end of the Fourth Round of Assessments.

And in doing so, Prime Mister Christie immediately drew attention to the increased level of resources that would be necessary to accomplish this goal and pledged his commitment to bring this issue to his colleagues at Heads of Government level.

The Right Honourable Prime Minister’s offer to assume the role of CFATF Patron and his call for the establishment of the CFATF Council of Elders will have to be considered in due course for adoption by the CFATF Council of Ministers, which based on the enthusiastic response thus far, should be positive.

For the full text of  The Right Honouable Perry Christie, Prime Minister, The Commonwealth of The Bahamas

CFATF's Nassau re-affirmation a pledge to Collaborate, Communicate and Cooperate

The Honourable Luis Antonio Martinez Gonzalez, Attorney General of El Salvador and The Honourable Allyson Maynard Gibson, Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Commonwealth of The Bahamas.In another forward thinking move which is becoming the hallmark of The Bahamas’ leadership of the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force (CFATF), Madam Chair Allyson Maynard Gibson, Attorney General the Commonwealth of The Bahamas hosted the First Annual Regional Anti Money Laundering and Combating the Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT) Conference on April 2-3, 2014 at the British Colonial Hilton Hotel Nassau, The Bahamas.

The result was the Nassau Re-Affirmation on Anti Money Laundering, Combating the Financing of Terrorism and Proliferation Financing. 

This Conference provided national authorities in all CFATF Members with pertinent information on how to successfully undertake the Fourth Round of Mutual Evaluations which will begin in January 2015 and to achieve the goal of at least seventy five (75) percent compliance with the FATF Recommendations. The event was attended by high ranking Ministerial officials, Attorneys General and designated Representatives who embraced this challenge positively.

The issues included among others, the need for all CFATF Members to develop a serious approach to educating all regional stakeholders including the private sector, on the importance of the Fourth Round of Mutual Evaluations, the critical role of the National Risk Assessments as well as the Technical Assistance and Training Programmes for Secretariat staff, Mutual Evaluation Examiners and national stakeholders that are vital to achieving a high level of compliance with the revised FATF Recommendations.

Opening Remarks were delivered by the Right Honourable Perry G. Christie, Prime Minister, Commonwealth of The Bahamas, whose presence underscored the importance of this regional dialogue on the Fourth Round of Mutual Evaluations and the critical necessity of the Governments of each and every CFATF Member signaling to our international partners, the commitment at the highest political levels, to provide adequate human and financial resources for the Mutual Evaluation Programme.

In another significant development, Prime Minister Christie announced his readiness to undertake the very important commitment of being a patron to the CFATF, championing its work within CARICOM and around the world, strengthening its relationship with other Regional Bodies such as CARICOM and ensuring an adequate flow of resources so that the CFATF could do its work effectively. See Opening Remarks here. Remarks by Rt. Hon. Perry Christie

In keeping with the close working relationship between the CFATF and the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), Madam Chair Maynard Gibson extended a special invitation to Mr. Vladimir Nechaev, President, FATF, her co-parent of this Conference who delivered the Keynote Address.

President Nechaev spoke about the FATF Mandate, its strong partnership with the CFATF, its relationship with the Private Sector, and the importance of complying with FATF Standards. For speech delivered click here.

The Commonwealth Secretariat is a founder CFATF Observer Organisation and has contributed significant financial resources to the growth and development of the CFATF with regard to strengthening AML/CFT capacity in the Caribbean Basin Region.

The CFATF owes the Commonwealth Secretariat a considerable debt of gratitude and a Special Address was delivered by Legal Advisor, Mr. Shadrach Haruna, on behalf of Ms. Katalaina Sapolu, Director, Legal & Constitutional Division, which highlighted the longstanding relationship between both organizations and the mechanisms by which such close collaboration could continue during the Fourth Round of Assessments and beyond.

Regional Efforts to Take the “Profit Out of Crime” Continue Apace

Jefferson Clarke, Law Enforcement Advisor at the CFATF SecretariatThe Caribbean Criminal Assets Recovery Programme (CCARP) are organising a conference for Lead Financial Investigators and Prosecutors, which is to be held in the Fort Young Hotel in Dominica during April 9-10 2014.

The main themes of the conference are money laundering prosecutions and the preparation of a ‘Prosecutor’s Statement’ for confiscation. Participants will come from twenty jurisdictions, with eighteen CFATF Members invited to attend along with attendees   from Martinique and United States of America.

Jefferson Clarke, Law Enforcement Advisor at the CFATF Secretariat has been invited to attend this conference to make a presentation on the CFATF Training and Accreditation Programme which is intended to deliver five training modules for the benefit of two hundred and seven (207) Financial Investigators, Financial Analysts and Supervisors at Regional Financial Intelligence Units.  

The aim of this three year project which is funded by the European Union is to ensure that participation by these officials, all of whom will be working in country and regionally, will facilitate the improved quality in the filing of suspicious transaction reports, improved quality of financial intelligence and information through effective analysis and data matching, encourage the use of financial investigative tools, and enhance exchange of financial information and intelligence and cooperation as standard activity in the investigation of serious crimes.

CCARP is based in Barbados and has a mandate to build effective financial investigation capacity in financial intelligence units in select Caribbean jurisdictions.

The ultimate goal of the CCARP and the CFATF initiatives is to deprive criminal gangs of their illegally obtained wealth.