Last Updated 19/08/2009.
On 17 August 2009, Guyana’s Minister of Finance, Dr. Ashni Singh, announced that the Anti-Money Laundering and Countering of Terrorism Act was assented to by President Bharrat Jagdeo on 14 August 2009. For the first time in legislative history, lawyers are included in the list of designated entities with specific anti-money laundering obligations. Previously, they were exempted from regulatory control under the Money Laundering Prevention Act 2000.
According to a press release by the Government Information Agency of Guyana, requirements in the Act only apply to lawyers when, on behalf of their clients, they engage in the buying and selling of real estate, money management or the creation, operation or management of companies.
When applicable, the Act requires lawyers to establish and maintain records of all transactions completed and the client’s personal information such as his name, date of birth, address and occupation or business activity. These records must be preserved for seven years.
Should a suspicious transaction arise, lawyers should ascertain the purpose of the transaction, the origin and ultimate destination of the funds and the identity of the ultimate beneficiary. They should then submit a report to the FIU documenting their findings. The Act defines a suspicious transaction as a complex, unusually large business transaction or a pattern of transactions which have no apparent economic lawful purpose.
Furthermore, law firms shall appoint a compliance officer within their organisation to ensure that they are meeting their legislative obligations.
Additionally, the Act designates the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU), which operates within the Ministry of Finance, as the primary authority responsible for handling suspicious reports. The Act also empowers the FIU to issue anti-money laundering guidelines to reporting entities and to impose a range of civil sanctions for entities that breach their AML obligations.
According to Dr. Singh, the Act brings Guyana’s anti-money laundering framework in line with international standards.
A text of the Act is currently not available online.
Press release by the Government Information Agency of Guyana on 18 August 2009.
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