SEC pushing to strengthen PHL anti-money laundering law

By , on March 15, 2016

(ShutterStock image)
(ShutterStock image)

MANILA – The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is pushing improvements in the Philippine anti-money laundering law and strengthening its enforcement in an effort to bolster the country’s capability to stop money laundering activities.

“I guess (we have to) expand the coverage of reporting entities. We also have to make sure that AMLC (Anti-Money Laundering Council) has all the necessary powers to do its job,” SEC chairperson Teresita Herbosa told reporters on the sidelines of the conference on credit infrastructure on Monday.

Under the AMLA of 2001, the country’s financial intelligence unit AMLC is authorized to institute civil forfeiture and all other remedial proceedings, and cause the filing of complaints with the Department of Justice or the Ombudsman for the prosecution of money laundering offenses.

Herbosa, also a member of the AMLC, said that there have been several amendments to the anti-money laundering law since it was passed in 2001. However, other entities have not been included.

The SEC chief has been pushing for the inclusion of casinos in the list of covered institutions under the AMLA to prevent the facilitation of dirty money in the country.

The Philippines was one of the few countries in the world which had not included casinos in the list of institutions to report monetary transactions to the AMLC, she earlier said.

“Money laundering can only be stopped if everyone in the world cooperates. So we have to catch people who are engaged in that activity and one way of doing that is really to strengthen the laws of each country to conform to best practices,” Herbosa added.

Meanwhile, Herbosa expressed optimism that authorities will recover some of the alleged US$ 100 million in funds illegally taken by hackers from the account of Bangladesh Bank at a United States (US) bank and transferred into various local banks and casinos.

“I’m sure somehow, some of it will be recovered,” she said. “I believe in the justice system.”

Further, Herbosa believes that such money-laundering case will not affect the image of the country.

“Not all countries have the same level of progress when it comes to passing all these anti-money laundering laws. I would say the Philippines is almost there on the top tier because we practically passed this `in 2001 and then it has been 15 years we have done more amendments. So I doubt if you would say that we are that severely lacking on anti-money laundering measures,” she added.