The Financial Action Task Force (FATF) has reportedly given Guyana until October to revise its anti-money laundering law, which the financial crime watchdog says is weak and toothless.
Failure to meet its guidelines, reports say, may prompt the watchdog to blacklist the Caribbean country, forcing foreign institutions to pull out of any financial transaction involving Guyana.
The news comes months after the FATF’s Caribbean unit, CFATF, expressed its frustration at Guyanese government’s inability to amend anti-money laundering laws.
The Caribbean country has long been suspected to be a major trans-shipment point for drugs headed to the United States. International financial security analysts say Guyana is not doing enough to fight the trade and money laundering.
Recently, the U.S. government said it would open a Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) office in the South American country.
Analysts say Guyana’s weak criminal justice system and its role in the drug trade are facilitating money laundering. Now, Guyana has no choice but to strengthen its anti-money laundering laws, because blacklisting would represent a serious blow to its economy, which depends heavily on the export of natural resources.
Guyana does have basic anti-money laundering legislation in place but analysts say it is full of loopholes. In addition, there has been no investigation underway into a single financial crime. And the South American country lacks programs for financial institutions to report suspicious transactions.
After October, the international watchdog will review Guyana’s anti-money laundering laws and decide whether or not to place the country on the blacklist. As agreed with the CFATF, Guyana also needs to set up a Special Organized Crime Unit.
The Guyanese government introduced an amendment bill to the existing anti-money laundering law in April 2013, but opposition parties have blocked its passage, arguing that they would cooperate only if the president approves all the legislation passed recently.