Friday, February 6, 2009

Tough new money laundering law to take force soon - President signals

Guyana Chronicle top story, Friday 06 February 2009
Tough new money laundering law to take force soon
- President signals
By Sharief Khan

PRESIDENT Bharrat Jagdeo yesterday signalled he is intent on pushing the
country's tough new law against money laundering to plug loopholes exploited
particularly by those who have illegally acquired huge assets.
He said the new act is before Parliament and he has told Finance Minister,
Dr Ashni Singh, to wrap up the discussions at the level of the Select
Committee and have the law passed soon because it has been there too long.
"We found the older law has some loopholes, especially in terms of seizure
of assets, and we are plugging those holes through the new act", Mr. Jagdeo
said at a press conference at his official State House residence.
Money laundering is the practice of engaging in finance/financial
transactions in order to conceal the identity, source, and/or destination of
illegally gained money, and is a main operation of the underground economy
around the world.
The issue of seizing assets garnered through the narcotics trade here
surfaced with the high-profile interception in Canada and the Caribbean in
December of cocaine shipments from Guyana.
Collaboration between the local Customs Anti-Narcotics Unit (CANU), police
and army and American, British and Canadian agencies has led to the
unravelling of narcotics trafficking networks based here and the Guyana
Revenue Authority is looking into assets drug barons may have acquired
through money laundering and other means, officials said.
Mr. Jagdeo yesterday raised the delay in enacting the new tough anti-money
laundering law while noting that Guyana's financial system is in good
He said the International Monetary Fund found, through intrusive inspection,
that Guyana's financial sector is in good health.
"We're not perfect but our financial system is essentially in good shape",
he reported.
He said that in his meetings on coping with the international financial
meltdown which is worsening, he has been arguing for a global governance
Guyana, he stressed, will not be spared the consequences of the crisis,
particularly in the real sector, as global demand dries up on some
"We need a global governance structure to make sure we have global financial
stability because national regulatory structures, as strong as they may,
cannot effectively deliver global financial stability because there is so
much cross-border transaction that needs to be captured, measured and
reported on..."
"We are still open to this...we are examining the situation", he said.
The President, who was at the annual World Economic Forum in Davos,
Switzerland last week, said the talks focused broadly on two areas of
significant concern to Guyana - climate change; and the global financial
crisis and how to exit this crisis with the minimum of consequences for the
peoples of the world.
He noted that many world leaders are excessively focused on the domestic
issue of job creation and getting their economies going because of the
severe impact of the crisis.
He pointed out that soaring employment in many developed countries is
leading to protests against foreign workers and that "a healthy dose of
xenophobia is developing" in the developed world.
"Many of the countries are seemingly going down the path of protectionism
although they used to lecture the world about the benefits of open trade and
free trade. When they are faced with problems, they want to shut the door to
free, multilateral trade and foreign workers", he said.
He said that in Davos, he wanted to shift the focus "about how we're going
to get out of this crisis", adding that all agreed there that it will get
significantly worse before it gets better and it's already bad.
Mr. Jagdeo said many people agreed in principle that the situation warrants
a combination of collective efforts around the world and national stimulus
packages combined with monetary policy, and a loosening up of liquidity in
the system to get out of this crisis.
"This was a very healthy debate and the benefit of Davos was that many of
the policymakers got together, shared experiences and (what's needed now) is
coordinated action by many countries to overcome the impact of the crisis,
to bolster global demand" which can mean increasing production, he said.

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