includes casinos in AMLA to fortify law
By Office of Senator Escudero
December 1, 2016
PASAY CITY – The
Senate is giving more teeth to the Anti-Money Laundering Act (AMLA) by
amending its current provisions to include the casino industry under
the scrutiny of the law.
Senator Chiz Escudero,
chairman of the Committee on Banks, Financial Institutions and
Currencies which is sponsoring the measure, said a panel report to
further amend Republic Act No. 9160 or AMLA of 2001 has already been
filed and is due for sponsorship on Monday next week.
The inclusion of casinos in
the AMLA coverage is one of the recommendations of the Financial
Action Task Force (FATF), a global anti-money laundering and
anti-terrorism watchdog, to avoid the potential blacklisting of the
Senate Committee Report No.
13, however, has now expanded its coverage to include casinos as part
of the reporting bodies to the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC),
which was left out in the amendments made in 2012.
Escudero said the country is
rushing to comply with prescribed global legal and regulatory
framework on anti-money laundering before FATF’s assessment of the
country in June next year. The Philippines was last assessed three
years ago by the international body, which noted strong concerns on
the exclusion of the casino sector from the law.
In the amended act, the cash
threshold for any covered transactions is now anything exceeding
P500,000.00 or US$10,000.00 or other equivalent monetary instrument.
Also covered by the expanded law are money services business or money
transfer companies, dealers of precious stones, jewels and metals,
dealers of high-value items or goods and real estate developers,
brokers and sales agents.
“We are talking of dealers
or those entities, like lawyers and accountants acting in behalf of
clients whenever they receive cash for profit or gains, exceeding
P500, 000.00. So if they don’t want to be covered by the AMLA law,
then they should transact or act in behalf of their clients with
checks, not cash. Then again, checks are already covered by the
reportorial requirements of banks under AMLA,” Escudero said.
Considered high-value items
under the measure are the following goods or items which value exceeds
one million pesos (P1,000,000.00): motor vehicles, including land, air
and water vehicles; art and antiques; and other luxury items such as
jewelry, watches and bags.
“We put a generic and catch
all terms. In the original act, it simply states jewelry, with 50
percent of its value coming from the precious stone used. But this is
ambiguous and evasive, what if you are paying for the luxury brand
itself and not the stones? Then that’s already left out. There are
strong calls to include luxury car dealers, but those who deal
choppers and planes and yachts will also be left out, so we phrased
the inclusion as high-value goods to cover all,” the senator pointed
C.R. No. 13 also strengthens
the power of AMLC to investigate motu propio or upon the request of
appropriate departments or agencies transactions deemed suspicious for
possible money laundering-activities.
It is already being
empowered to file, directly through the Office of the Solicitor
General, before the Court of Appeals petition for a freeze order
against any monetary instrument or property deemed laundered.
The AMLC can also already
subpoena any person and compel his/her attendance to produce
information for verification and investigation in compliance with AMLA.
Escudero scored the
importance of complying with the country’s commitments to the FATF
action plans and to earn its approval after its review next year as
millions of our overseas workers will be the front liners to receive
the impact of a positive or negative review.
“We are rushing to sponsor
this and hopefully pass the measure first quarter next year, to comply
in time for the review. Otherwise, global remittances of our millions
of overseas workers will go through scrutiny and difficulties,”