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Guyana Discusses Offshore Financial Centre Proposals

by Phillip Morton, Investors

20 April 2009

Guyana’s Minister of Finance, Ashni Singh, underlined his support to facilitate the development of Guyana as an Offshore Financial Centre (OFC) at a meeting of senior Government officials and representatives of the Guyana Association of Bankers.

In a statement Singh noted the presence of several established OFCs in the Caribbean region, including the Cayman Islands, Barbados, the Bahamas and the Netherlands Antilles. Singh particularly underlined that these countries and their OFCs provide several benefits to the host country. These benefits include the deepening of financial markets, the enhancement of skills of workers in professional fields such as law and accountancy and, ultimately, a boost to economic growth and employment.

Against this backdrop, the Government of Guyana intends to undertake an assessment of the institutional arrangements and legislation that would need to be put in place in order for Guyana to serve as an OFC. The assessment would involve: a review of existing legislation and draft legislation in order to assess implications they may have for the development of an offshore financial sector in Guyana which would include consideration of the Anti-Money Laundering Act currently before Parliament; a review of the experience of OFCs in the Caribbean Region and of relevant legislation in place in these other jurisdictions and the setting out of a recommended way forward, with the aim of drafting legislation that would both be appropriate for Guyana and compliant with OECD standards.

In order for the assessment to be carried out effectively, collaboration between multiple Government Agencies (to include the Bank of Guyana, the Financial Intelligence Unit and the Guyana Office for Investment), and the close involvement of interested stakeholders in the private sector, would be required, noted Singh.

In this regard, Minister Singh requested the support and input of the Guyana Association of Bankers, whose members possess invaluable technical expertise as well as experience of other CARICOM jurisdictions that could be used as a model for Guyana.

It is understood that the planned regime would focus primarily on offering offshore banking services.

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