FATF to send review team to PH in May

By: Michelle V. Remo, April 8th, 2013 04:10 AM

MANILA, Philippines—Representatives of the Paris-based Financial Action Task Force (FATF) are set to visit the Philippines next month to evaluate the anti-money-laundering environment in the country and decide whether it deserves to be taken out of the unflattering “gray list.”

Countries in the FATF’s so-called gray list are those that have shown significant progress in fighting money laundering but have yet to implement additional requirements to prove they are fully cooperative in the global fight against the illegal activity.

During the onsite visit, scheduled from May 2 to 3, FATF representatives will specifically assess whether the latest legislated measures against money laundering are indeed being efficiently implemented. They will also determine whether the country is ready to implement the FATF’s remaining requirements.

One of these requirements is the inclusion of casinos on the list of entities required to report suspicious transactions to the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC).

The AMLC said the Philippines should be able to demonstrate to the FATF representatives that the mechanisms for the implementation of the amended Anti-Money Laundering Act (AMLA) were already in place.

AMLC said the Philippines also should be able to convince FATF that actions were ongoing to further amend the law so that the remaining FATF requirements would be covered.

“During the onsite visit, we will demonstrate to the review group that the processes for implementing the amendments to the law, including criminalization of terrorist financing as well as administrative reforms are firmly in place,” AMLC Chairman and Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Governor Amando Tetangco Jr. told the Inquirer. “[The Philippines must also show] that it is ready to address any further deficiency.”

Last Feb. 15, President Aquino signed into law the Congress-ratified measure putting more teeth to the AMLA. The revised law requires even money changers, dealers of jewelry and precious metals, real-estate companies and pre-need firms to report to the AMLC suspicious transactions for purposes of catching money laundering and terrorist financing activities. Previously, only banks, other financial institutions and some professionals were required to report such transactions to the AMLC.

The new law, however, still did not include casinos on the list of entities required to report suspicious transactions. After tedious debates, Congress decided against the coverage of casinos following threats from lobbyists that this would have negative repercussions on the gaming industry in the country.

This was the reason the FATF, during its latest plenary meetings held in Paris in February, decided to keep the Philippines in the gray list despite President Aquino’s signing of the amended law. AMLC said it would go back to convincing legislators to further amend the AMLA to finally include casinos.

AMLC said the Philippines might face the risk of slipping to the FATF’s black list if it would fail to implement the requirement within a reasonable amount of time.

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