The Special Organized Crime Unit (SOCU) is tasked with investigating money laundering activities here. But it is unable to effectively carry out its mandate since local banks have been moving to the courts to prevent the Unit from accessing clientele information.
Public Security Minister Khemraj Ramjattan, during the sitting of the National Assembly last Thursday, lamented the fact that SOCU is severely challenged in this regard. However, Opposition Parliamentarian Anil Nandlall has claimed to be in possession of knowledge that can help remedy the situation.
In a Facebook post, the former Attorney General (AG) said that the reason why the courts are reluctant to act in supplying the information requested is because several pieces of legislation are clashing.
“Some require the bank to maintain clients’ confidentiality and some require the banks to make disclosures. The latter are contained in AML/CFT (the Anti-money Laundering and Countering the Finance of Terrorism),” Nandlall wrote in a June 22 post.
He added that when the issue of nondisclosure was being debated in the National Assembly, he brought these inconsistencies to the Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs Basil Williams’ attention. Nandlall said that he informed the Attorney General that these anomalies were supposed to be reconciled after consulting with the banks. He said that an appropriate formulation should have been arrived at, at the drafting stage which protects both competing interests and would find favour with the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) and the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force (CFATF).
“Of course, our Attorney General is incapable of taking advice. All he does is take the draft Bill which comes from FATF and CFATF and table it in the National Assembly and then clumsily boasts that he satisfied another international requirement. So these statutory implosions will continue unabated until there is an initiated input at the AG chambers,” Nandlall declared.