Come 2019, the National Anti-Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism Committee will be working assiduously to ensure that lawyers, notaries, proprietors/managers of casinos, commissioner of oaths, dealers in precious stones and metals, accountants, and auditors are brought under strict supervision.
This was recently revealed by Attorney General and Legal Affairs Minister, Basil Williams. The politician said that this move is crucial as it would be in keeping with the nation’s anti-money laundering laws. He reminded that the aforementioned professions fall under the category of ‘Designated Non-Financial Businesses and Professions (DNFBPs).’
In an exclusive interview with the Guyana Standard today, Williams said that the risks connected to lawyers, accountants, and some other professions lie basically in the potential to use their skills so as to conceal the identities of the beneficial owners of the transactions done through them.
The Minister, a lawyer himself, explained, “Take the services offered by lawyers and accountants for example. Their services may be misused in money laundering operations in various ways. This can include the creation of a firm or some other legal arrangement like a trust which would be used to conceal the link between the proceeds of the crime and the criminals. They could also engage in buying and selling of real estates, as the transfer of the real estate ownership is used to cover the illicit funds transfer…”
He added, “These professionals can also execute financial operations on behalf of customers, like a cash deposit or withdrawal, foreign currency exchange operations, sale and purchase of shares, and sending and receiving international money transfers. And worse yet, they could file fictitious lawsuits to obtain a judgment to legitimize the funds…”
That said, the Legal Affairs Minister assured that the AML Committee will have the financial backing to carry out its duties as required under the laws.
The National Anti-Money Laundering Committee comprises the Governor of the Bank of Guyana, Commissioner-General of the Guyana Revenue Authority, Director of Public Prosecutions, Head of the Special Organized Crime Unit, Director of the Financial Intelligence Unit, General Manager of the Guyana Gold Board, the Chairperson of the Guyana Securities Council, the Chairperson of the Gaming Authority and the Chief Cooperatives and Development Officer. It is chaired by the Attorney General.