The Government of Guyana conducted a Civil Asset Recovery workshop on July 19th and 20th, 2022 at the Guyana Marriott Hotel in Kingston. The workshop was an initiative of the Caribbean Basin Security Initiative (CBSI) Anti-Crime Program. The Government of Guyana also collaborated with the United States Department of State’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL) and the National Centre for State Courts (NCSC) for the workshop. The United States Ambassador to Guyana, Ms. Sarah-Ann Lynch, noted that the workshop aimed to “forge and strengthen partnerships, share best practices, and strengthen our response to serious, transnational and financial crimes”. The Ambassador went on to say that the program adopted a regional approach to tackling narcotics, trafficking, and other forms of serious organized crimes through asset recovery and robust anti-money laundering (AML) measures.
There were multiple agencies represented at the workshop. These included the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU), Customs Anti-Narcotics Unit, Criminal Investigation Department and Special Organized Crime Unit, the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), Attorney General’s Chambers, the Guyana Revenue Authority as well as agencies that manage Guyana’s petroleum reserves. Expert speakers from across the Caribbean, Canada, and the United Kingdom facilitated the workshop.
Ambassador Lynch noted that asset forfeiture is an essential tool in the country’s efforts to combat financial crimes as it removes the profit from crime and acts as a deterrent to future crimes. She further stated that while Guyana has various laws regarding asset recovery, “there is a need to build capacity on how to effectively implement and use these laws. We come together to enhance our knowledge of the law and share regional and international best practices. This will build expertise in conviction-based and non-conviction-based asset recovery in Guyana”. Ambassador Lynch expressed hope that the workshop will encourage “a shared sense of purpose, a vested interest in asset recovery, and an understanding of how to use the tools available to successfully prosecute financial crimes”.
At the opening ceremony, the Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, the Honourable Mohabir Anil Nandlall SC, remarked that the objectives of the workshop were to increase knowledge and build confidence in civil asset recovery through legislative overview, practical case identification exercises, cross-agency team building, case studies and interactive table-top exercises. He emphasised that it is important for State agencies in Guyana to constantly enhance their capacity to punish and deter criminal activity by depriving criminals of property used in or acquired through criminal activities. Therefore, it is critical for law enforcement agencies to be cognizant of the powers contained in legislation as well as the challenges in investigating and prosecuting assets recovery cases.