Money launderingData gathering and the sharing of information have been deemed two critical components in the fight against money laundering and countering terrorism financing and, therefore, collaborative efforts by several important agencies in Guyana are essential to securing successful prosecutions and convictions.Head of the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU), Matthew LangevineThis is according to the Head of the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU), Matthew Langevine, who at a signing ceremony of agreements with seven agencies on Monday stated that the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) that each agency inked with the FIU allows for the exchange of information in a timely, safe and secure manner.“The MoU was developed based on recommendations to 29 of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF). Forty recommendations which require that organisations, competent authorities in every country, share information that will allow for the effective execution of its mandate with respect to dealing with the scourge of money laundering,” Langevine said at the brief signing ceremony.The agencies which will be sharing information are Guyana Gold Board, Bank of Guyana, Guyana Geology and Mines Commission, Gaming Authority, Lands Registry, Chief Cooperative Development Officer and Guyana Securities Council.ConfidentialityLangevine explained that the MoU allows for all competent authorities to agree to share information and exchange information in an efficient, safe and secure manner, so that there is confidentiality and protection of the information that is shared.“As well as to share the information in a timely manner so that investigations are conducted efficiently. We have an MoU with the Special Organised Crime Unit (SOCU) and the State Assets Recovery Agency (SARA) already that was done previously and so with all the agencies now coming on board to exchange information in a more structured and efficient manner, it should allow for a more efficient and effective process with respect to all the investigations we are conducting.”According to the FIU Head, such a process is standard for all FIUs globally and all the competent authorities in every country. The fact that Guyana was not a part of this process earlier was highlighted as a weakness within a National Risk Assessment (NRA) that was conducted.Langevine further explained that the inking of such a MoU is one of the recommendations that came out of the NRA that was completed in 2017. It is aimed at ensuring that all measures that were identified in relation to improving the effectiveness of the Anti-Money Laundering/Caribbean Financing Action Task Force (AML/CFATF) regime in Guyana, are in place.“We signed with seven today but we would have signed a couple already. We have a few others that we are hoping to sign with very shortly including the additional registries, the Commercial Registry and the Deeds Registry as well as the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA) which is still outstanding which we are going to have signed off very shortly. The Customs Anti-Narcotics Unit (CANU) is also scheduled to sign off with us very shortly as well.”No SOCU successful prosecutionsHe told this publication that over the past few years, since the establishment of the FIU, his agency has continuously been sending cases to SOCU so that it (SOCU) could pursue with the aim of securing successful prosecutions which would lead to convictions.“We are sending cases all the time, we are sending reports to them, sending updated reports to reports submitted previously so it is an ongoing process. The one thing I would like to warn the public is that money laundering investigations are very complex and it takes a lot of time and requires a lot of work and a lot of skilled resources and I think that we have to allow the process to work.”However, he noted that getting to the stage of convictions, prosecutions and seizures of assets cannot happen until there are certain systems properly implemented.