MANILA – Insurance Commissioner Emmanuel Dooc on Tuesday stressed the need to “put more teeth” on the country’s Anti-Money Laundering Act (AMLA) following the transfer of about USD 81 million reportedly stolen from Bangladesh Bank (BB).
In his opening statement during the Senate hearing on the illegal cross-border transactions, Dooc said the inter-agency Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) “has been vigorously implementing the law despite some loopholes or deficiencies.”
“However, money laundering investigation and subsequent filing of money laundering cases are only remedial measures to protect the integrity of the financial system and to ensure that the Philippines shall not be used as a money laundering site of the proceeds of crime,” he said.
The IC chief said preventive measures such as putting the right and appropriate legal and institutional framework was a good way of preventing money laundering.
President Benigno Aquino III signed on Feb. 15, 2013 Republic Act (RA) 10167, otherwise known as the amended Anti-Money Laundering Law.
Dooc said that “despite these huge efforts to improve the system, there still remain strategic deficiencies which make the Philippines vulnerable to the risk of money laundering” since casinos were still not covered by AMLA.
This is the gap seen by erring individuals who were able to launder funds taken from BB, the central bank of that country, and were traced to have been remitted to accounts that were with the Rizal Commercial Banking Corp. (RCBC) Jupiter, Makati City branch.
The IC chief said the issue raised the question on need to include casino and casino operators under the anti-money laundering law.
He pointed out that “the thing speaks for itself.”
“The lessons we learned from this recent episode is unmistakable. We have to put more teeth in our laws so that we can stop criminal elements from exploiting the deficiencies in our existing laws. These are the gaping holes in our laws. We have to include casinos as covered entities,” he said.
Dooc assured the lawmakers that ALMC “has been on top of this investigation, from the moment the matter came to its knowledge.”
“We assure you that the AMLC will continue with its investigation and we will not leave a stone until we get to the bottom of things and find the truth,” he added.