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Duterte signs law including casinos in AMLC coverage

Expanded coverage seen to prevent entry of illicit money, says BSP chief

President Duterte has signed a law including casinos under the purview of the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC), more than a year after money stolen by cyber criminals from Bangladesh’s central bank entered the domestic financial system and eventually found their way to local casinos.

Mr. Duterte on July 14 signed Republic Act 10927, which included casinos, “including internet- and ship-based casinos,” under the coverage of the Anti-Money Laundering Act.

Under the law, casinos should report to the AMLC any “cash transaction involving an amount in excess of P5 million or its equivalent in any foreign currency.”

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The law defined internet-based casinos as those in which “persons participate by the use of remote communication facilities such as … internet, telephone, television, radio and any other kind of electronic or other technology for facilitating communication.”

On the other hand, ship-based casinos are those that operate on board “vessels, ships, boat or any other water-based craft wholly or partly intended for gambling.”

If it is determined that the questionable amount involved “was in any way related to an unlawful activity,” the AMLC can ask the Court of Appeals to issue a 20-day freeze order. “Within the 20-day period, the Court of Appeals shall conduct a summary hearing, with notice to the parties, to determine whether or not to modify or lift the freeze order, or extend its activity, the new law said.

It added that the appellate court freeze order can last up to six months.

“This is without prejudice to an asset preservation order that the Regional Trial Court having jurisdiction over the appropriate antimoney laundering case or civil forfeiture case may issue on the same account depending upon the circumstances of the case,” the law said.

The AMLC and the state-owned Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. as well as other government regulatory agencies will jointly issue the rules and regulation of the new law within 90 days after its effectivity.

The inclusion of casinos in the coverage of the antimoney laundering law will help strengthen the fight against illicit inflows, Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Governor Nestor A. Espenilla Jr. said yesterday.

“This is a very welcome development. It plugs a critical gap in our legal framework. It will significantly strengthen our ability to prevent the entry of illicit money into our economy,” Espenilla, who also chairs AMLC, told reporters after Malacañang announced that President Duterte had signed Republic Act (RA) No. 10927 into law.

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RA 10927 amended RA 9160 or the Anti-Money Laundering Act of 2001 by, among others, including casinos, including internet- and ship-based operations, among the covered institutions of the law.

Given the additional mandate, Espenilla said the AMLC Secretariat was already in the process of building up its manpower complement in line with the expanded scope.

To immediately implement RA 10927, the drafting of its implementing rules and regulations would be fast-tracked such that these should be in place by yearend at the latest, Espenilla said.

“The IRR will be developed in coordination with casino operators, notably Pagcor,” Espenilla added, referring to state-run Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp.

The move to include casinos as covered institutions started even before the Aquino administration left office, especially in light of the so-called Bangladesh Bank heist early last year that saw the entry of stolen money into local bank Rizal Commercial Banking Corp. The money later ended in Philippine casinos.

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TAGS: Anti-Money Laundering Act, Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC), casinos, President Duterte, Republic Act 10927
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