By Isaiah Braithwaite
GEORGETOWN, Guyana, (DPI) – The government of Guyana is building its capacity to target the assets of persons involved in criminal activities as it aims to dismantle criminal enterprises.
Attorney-general and minister of legal affairs Mohabir Anil Nandlall, SC, said targeting the proceeds from criminal activities is a fundamental component in the administration of criminal justice. He said that studies have shown that hitting criminals at their asset base is essential in the fight against organised crime, money laundering and countering the financing of terrorism.
“This is one component that admittedly has not been the subject of the type of focus that it should have been over the years, and the time has come for us to change that. Our government is committed to moving in this direction,” he stated.
The attorney-general was at the time delivering remarks at the opening of an asset recovery workshop. The two-day activity which commenced on July 19 is a collaborative effort with the United States Department of State, Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs and the National Center for State Courts.
Building the capacity of criminal justice agencies in the areas of financial crime and asset recovery is the focus of the workshop. This will ensure that Guyana has the institutional capacity to deal with crimes such as money laundering, tax evasion, accounting fraud and embezzlement corruption.
The attorney-general stressed that equal to the prosecution and investigation is aligned with the consequential process of following the proceeds of the illicit activities with a view to forfeiture.
“No longer will we ignore that component of the enforcement of the law, for too long we have done that. Our government’s approach is holistic and as we are pursuing going after the proceeds of crime, we are also improving, developing and modernising crime fighting at every level,” the attorney-general noted.
Minister Nandlall disclosed that his ministry, in collaboration with the ministry of home affairs, is in the process of recruiting qualified personnel that will enhance the forensic capabilities of the state’s investigative apparatus.
There is also continuous training for members of the Guyana Police Force in several areas, to deal with the evolution of criminal activities. This is coupled with the continued investment in improving the prosecutorial capabilities of the state. The asset recovery workshop will see the development of best practices for law enforcement, financial investigators, state prosecutors and state attorneys in the area of asset recovery.
Meanwhile, an amendment to the Anti-Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism Act (AML/CFT) will soon see Guyana becoming a member of the Egmont group. The amendment to the Act will be laid before the National Assembly on Thursday.
Admission to the Egmont group will boost Guyana’s capacity to fight AML/CFT offences and activities. This was disclosed by attorney-general and minister of legal affairs Mohabir Anil Nandlall, SC, as he addressed an asset recovery workshop on Tuesday.
The attorney-general said he will be, “reading for the first time an amendment to our Anti-Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism Act to introduce for the first time, our membership to the Egmont Group.”
Guyana’s first application to become a member of the Egmont Group was made in 2014. The Egmont Group is made up of 156 Financial Intelligence Units (FIUs) and provides a secured platform for the exchange of expertise and financial intelligence to combat money laundering and terrorist financing.
It also supports the efforts of its international partners and other stakeholders to give effect to the resolutions and statements by the United Nations Security Council, the G20 finance ministers, and the Financial Action Task Force (FATF).
“In this amalgam, they have certain facilities that are reciprocal to members so they share information, they share platforms, and it augments the capability of the individual states to discharge their functions under their respective legislations. We are going to be part of that very prestigious international grouping very shortly,” the attorney-general stated.
The Egmont Group is a trusted gateway for sharing financial information domestically and internationally in accordance with global Anti Money Laundering and Counter Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT) standards.