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$81-M laundering bolsters need to amend AMLA

/ 01:22 AM March 15, 2016

The Philippines can better combat money laundering such as the $81-million cross-border transaction that slipped into the banking system recently by putting more teeth into the pertinent law and giving the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) more powers to run after suspects, the chief of the Securities and Exchange Commission said yesterday.

SEC Chair and AMLC co-chair Teresita Herbosa told reporters that aside from expanding the coverage of reporting obligations to include entities involved in casino operation and art dealership, the coverage of reporting entities must be expanded under the Anti-Money Laundering Act (AMLA).

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“We also have to make sure AMLC has all necessary power to do its job,” Herbosa said at the sidelines of a workshop on credit infrastructure systems by the Financial Infrastructure Development Network.

On the recent money laundering transaction in the country, Herbosa said: “Mass media is doing their job of making known to the public things like these. I’m glad that based on reaction of people, they understand what it’s about. The awareness has increased.”

Herbosa said she hoped that the Senate blue ribbon committee hearing today on the $81-million scheme would result in greater understanding on the additional legislation needed to strengthen the anti-money laundering framework.

Asked what powers the AMLC needed to better combat money laundering, Herbosa said the agency should have “power to immediately freeze (suspected bank accounts)” and “expanded power to inquire into or examine bank deposits,” alongside the inclusion of more persons or entities among those required to report suspicious transactions.

Earlier attempts to tinker with the tight deposit secrecy law in the country have been unsuccessful due to stiff resistance from lawmakers.

Authorities theorized that the Philippines had been selected by an international syndicate to be part of the recent scheme to hack into the bank account of Bangladesh Bank because casinos were not covered by reporting obligations under the AMLA.

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TAGS: AMLA, AMLC, Anti-Money Laundering Act, Anti-Money Laundering Council, money laundering
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