Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : December 12th 2013 Contents BG4 | COVER STORY
BUSINESS GUARDIAN www.guardian.co.tt DECEMBER 2013 • WEEK TWO
Aregional anti-money laun-
dering body has called on
Caribbean countries to
counter measures to protect
their financial systems from
the ongoing money laundering and terrorist
financing risks emanating from Belize and
The counter measures, which amount to a
financial blacklisting of the countries, will
mean that all financial transactions between
T&T and Guyana and Belize will be placed
under much greater scrutiny, with the pos-
sibility that wire transfers and other payments
would be delayed or denied.
Responding to questions on the impact of
the counter measures on trade and payments
between T&T and the affected countries,
Republic Bank executive director, Nigel Baptiste,
said: "These measures will undoubtedly neg-
atively affect trade and payments between the
countries as the enhanced monitoring will
result in longer turnaround time, higher costs
and possibly the refusal of accepting payments
where information requirements are not met.
"Where correspondent and other banks or
parties restrict the types of business being
done, this will negatively affect trade income
and payments and may lead to investors with-
drawing from Guyana and Belize."
Republic Bank has a significant subsidiary
in Guyana, having acquired 51 per cent of the
shareholding in National Bank of Industry and
Commerce Ltd on November 1997. The sub-
sidiary was officially rebranded as Republic
Bank (Guyana) Ltd on June 2, 2006.
The virtual blacklisting of Belize and Guyana
is a directive of the Caribbean Financial Action
Task Force (CFATF), an organisation comprising
29 jurisdictions in the Caribbean Basin region
that have agreed to implement international
standards on Anti-Money Laundering and
Combating the Financing of Terrorism
At the 38th plenary meeting of the CFATF,
which was held in The Bahamas last month,
the organisation identified Belize and Guyana
as the two countries that have not made suf-
ficient progress in addressing their significant
strategic AML/CFT deficiencies.
The naming and shaming of Belize and
Guyana was done "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 said in a
statement issued after the plenary meeting.
Questioned by e-mail on Monday on the
nature of the counter measures that countries
can take, a CFATF official said the organisation
"does not specify the type of counter measures
that should be taken. That is the decision of
individual CFATF member countries."
Republic Bank s Baptiste confirmed that the
issue of counter measures was not defined by
the CFATF or its international equivalent, the
Financial Action Task Force.
In e-mailed responses, he said the bank
carries out what is termed "enhanced due
diligence" and "enhanced monitoring" of both
customers and transactions emanating from
Guyana and Belize.
"This means that Republic carries out more
extensive examination of the customers and
transactions to make certain that the source
of funding is legitimate.
"This would translate to higher and more
indepth information requirements and veri-
fication than applies to a low-risk country.
We are continuing to review what additional
counter measures might be necessary."
He said Republic was also in discussions
with its correspondent banks to ascertain any
measures those parties may implement to deal
with Belize and Guyana.
According to the CFATF: "Guyana has taken
steps towards improving its AML/CFT com-
pliance regime, including strengthening its
record keeping requirements and functionality
of its Financial Intelligence Unit.
"However, the CFATF has determined that
Guyana has failed to make sufficient progress
in addressing its significant strategic AML/CFT
deficiencies, including certain legislative
reforms."The virtual blacklisting of Belize and
Guyana for failure to implement agreed-upon
reforms in their money laundering and ter-
rorism financing regimes has been a long time
Both countries were warned in November
2011 they had significant strategic deficiencies
in their regimes. And both countries worked
with the CFATF on agreed timelines in action
plans meant to remedy the deficiencies.
In a statement in May, the CFATF warned
Belize and Guyana that if they did not take
specific steps by November to address their
deficiencies, they would have been named and
shamed for their shortcomings.
Both countries were told in May that while
they had made efforts to address their defi-
ciencies, they had "not taken sufficient steps
towards improving its AML/CFT compliance
regime by failing to approve and implement
required legislative reforms."
As a result of not meeting the agreed time-
lines in its action plan, the CFATF statement
in May recommended that Guyana take steps
to ensure it addressed its AML/CFT deficien-
cies. Guyana has made efforts to address its
deficiencies, however, it has not taken sufficient
steps towards improving its AML/CFT com-
pliance regime by failing to approve and imple-
ment required legislative reforms.
Guyana was required to pass the relevant
legislation and implement all the outstanding
issues within its action plan, including:
1) fully criminalising money laundering and
terrorist financing offences
2) addressing all the requirements on ben-
3) strengthening the requirements for sus-
picious transaction reporting, international
co-operation, and the freezing and confiscation
of terrorist assets, and
4) fully implementing the UN conventions
No parliamentary agreement
Guyana introduced legislation in its Parlia-
ment in April to address the deficiencies, but
the country s legislature, which is deadlocked
as a result of the last general election, failed
to pass the legislation when it came up for
debate on November 7.
On October 22, Guyanese newspaper Kai-
eteur News reported in August that the bill
was sent by the Opposition to a special select
committee of the Parliament, despite protests
by government over the approaching deadlines.
The Opposition said it wanted more time to
study the bills and make recommendations,
according to the newspaper.
Kaieteur News also quoted Amit Kumar,
head of the Guyana Association of Bankers
(GAB), as saying banks there were already feel-
ing the pinch as Citibank, one of the largest
institutions in the United States, had severed
corresponding relations with a local bank. He
declined to name the bank.
Among the members of the GAB are Repub-
lic Bank, the Guyana Bank For Trade and
Industry, Demerara Bank and Bank of Nova
Baptiste said the deficiencies identified by
CFATF translate into the risk of money laun-
dering going undetected within the financial
system. This results in a higher probability of
proceeds of crime (money laundering/terrorism
financing) being circulated within Guyana and
Belize, he said.
"Through international trade, there is, there-
fore, also the risk of these proceeds circulating
further into other banks and entities as well
as through other banks outside of these coun-
tries. This exacerbates the issue of money
laundering beyond the borders of Guyana and
Belize and raises the possibility of the inte-
gration of dirty money into multiple jurisdic-
Answering a question on whether Guyana
and Belize have been blacklisted by the CFATF,
Baptiste said: "The FATF blacklist is the short-
hand description for the their list of "Non-
Cooperative Countries or Territories" (NCCTs);
that is, countries which it perceived to be non-
cooperative in the global fight against money
laundering and terrorist financing.
"The list of countries on the FATF blacklist
can be found on their Web site
(www.fatf.gafi.org). There are two categories:
non-compliant and not-sufficiently compliant.
"As at the last update of those lists, neither
Belize nor Guyana appears on it. The lists are
regularly reviewed, however, and so that could
"In the meantime, as mentioned before,
CFATF has asked member countries to consider
implementing counter measures to protect
their financial systems from the ongoing money
laundering and terrorist financing risks."
While Belize and Guyana are facing financial
issues as a result of failure to put the appro-
priate legislation in place, Dominica has escaped
Jurisdictions with strategic AML/CFT defi-
ciencies that have made significant progress
in addressing these deficiencies.
Dominica was identified in November 2011
as having significant strategic deficiencies in
its AML/CFT regime.
The CFATF and Dominica developed an
action plan with identified target dates to
address the strategic deficiencies that existed
in Dominica s national architecture to combat
money laundering and the financing of ter-
"The CFATF issued a public statement in
May 2013 recommending that Dominica enact
legislation and issue relevant guidelines
addressing their AML/CFT deficiencies.
Dominica has since brought into force signif-
icant mechanisms to address its AML/CFT
deficiencies. Dominica and the CFATF should
continue to work together to ensure that
Dominica s reform process is completed."
Republic Bank on Guyana, Belize blacklisting...
It could affect trade and payments
The naming and shaming
of Belize and Guyana was
done "to protect the
system from money
laundering and financing
of terrorism (ML/FT)
risks and to encourage
greater compliance with
the AML/CFT standards."
Links Archive December 11th 2013 December 13th 2013 Navigation Previous Page Next Page