Towards a strengthening of the fight against money laundering in the country

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The Philippines has been deemed vulnerable to money laundering and terrorist financing. This, according to the Philippinest AML (Anti-Money Laundering) report, is due to its growing economy and geographic positioning on major trafficking routes. Strengthening AML laws and regulations is therefore crucial to address risk and fight financial crime.

Money laundering is an illegal process of making assets or money from criminal activity appear to come from legitimate sources. Simply put, from the word itself, money laundering makes dirty money clean.

In 2000, in the absence of a basic anti-money laundering legal framework, the Philippines was blacklisted by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), a global money laundering watchdog. money and terrorist financing, which was on its list of Non-Cooperative Countries and Territories (NCCT).

It was September 29, 2001 when Republic Act (RA) No. 9160, also known as the Anti-Money Laundering Act of 2001 (AMLA), was signed into law.

He said it is state policy “to protect and preserve the integrity and confidentiality of bank accounts and to ensure that the Philippines is not used as a site for laundering money for the proceeds of any illegal activity. “.

Under the AMLA, the state should also “extend cooperation in transnational investigations and prosecutions of persons involved in money laundering activities, wherever they are committed.”

The Act also created the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC), which is responsible for implementing the AMLA. AMLC is composed of the Governor of Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas as Chairman, and the Commissioner of the Insurance Commission and the Chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission as members, acting unanimously in the discharge of their duties.

But despite the RA 9160, the country remained on the NCCT list. The MLA was subsequently amended for the first time by RA 9194 signed in March 2003. The amendments included, among other things, the reporting of suspicious transactions. The country was removed from the NCCT list in February 2005.

However, due to the absence of Counter Terrorism Financing (CTF) laws and other required regulations, the Philippines was placed on the gray list in February 2010. They had to address identified deficiencies in AML/CTF matters until December 2011, which they failed. respect and was demoted to the dark gray list in February 2012.

AMLA was amended by RA 10167, and RA 10168 or the Prevention and Suppression of Terrorist Financing Act 2012 was signed, returning the country to the gray list while being urged to fully remedy to the remaining gaps.

In February 2013, by signing RA 10365, AMLA adopted its Third Amendment. That year, the country came off the gray list but remained on the watch list. The FATF again expressed concerns about the risk of the casino sector and the lack of cover under the AMLA. Casino operations were later covered by the LBA through the passage of RA 10927 signed in July 2017. The country was subsequently removed from the watch list.

Seeking to further strengthen anti-money laundering regulations, the AMLA was amended by RA 11521 signed in January 2021 and came into force on February 8 last year. Part of these changes, among others, include additional powers for the AMLC and new covered persons.

Among the powers granted to the AMLC are the application for the issuance of a search and seizure order and a summons to appear before a court of competent jurisdiction and the authority to “preserve, manage or dispose of the assets under a freezing order, an asset preservation order or a forfeiture order. ”

The law also added “real estate developers and brokers” and “offshore gambling operators and their service providers” as covered persons. It also required property developers and brokers to report single cash transactions exceeding 7.5 million pesos to the AMLC.

Furthermore, under RA 11521, “the implementation of targeted financial sanctions related to the financing of the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, terrorism and the financing of terrorism, in accordance with United Nations Security Council resolutions” is added to the declared declaration. state policy.

The Philippines returned to the FATF’s list of “jurisdictions under heightened scrutiny” or gray list in June 2021.

The watchdog, in a statement last month, said the country should continue to implement measures regarding casino junkets, beneficial ownership, nonprofit organizations.

He nevertheless acknowledged the country’s progress since June last year, when he made “a high-level commitment to work with the FATF and the APG (Asia/Pacific Group on Money Laundering) to strengthen effectiveness of its AML/CFT regime”. — Chelsey Keith P. Ignacio

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