FATF-compliant PH dodges APG membership action
The Philippines escaped action to be meted by the regional watchdog guarding against dirty money transactions after casinos were placed under the coverage of the anti-money laundering law.
READ: Duterte puts casinos under money laundering monitoring
On its website, the Anti-Money Laundering Council said that during the meeting of the Asia-Pacific Group on Money Laundering (APG) in Sri Lanka last month, “the Philippines has been taken out from APG membership action” after the government reported that President Rodrigo Duterte signed the casino bill into law.
To recall, Duterte in July signed Republic Act (RA) No. 10927, which included casinos, including internet- and ship-based casinos, under the coverage of the Anti-Money Laundering Act.
“Among the issues discussed during the plenary is the Philippines’ compliance to the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) Forty Recommendations, particularly on the inclusion of casinos as covered persons. It would be recalled that in 2013, the FATF removed the Philippines from the list of vulnerable jurisdictions (‘grey list’) but enjoined it to ‘work with the APG as it continues to address the full range of anti-money laundering and combating the financing of terrorism (AML/CFT) issues identified in its mutual evaluation report, in particular, regulating the casino sector in the Philippines for AML/CFT purposes and making it subject to AML/CFT requirements,'” the AMLC said.
READ: Anti-money launder law to bar dirty cash from casinos – BSP
On the APG’s website, it said the Philippines, alongside Afghanistan, Brunei, Nepal, Pakistan, Taiwan and Vietnam, “exited transitional mutual evaluation follow-up in recognition of their significant progress in implementing the FATF standards.”
Under RA 10927, casinos must report to the AMLC any cash transaction involving an amount in excess of P5 million or its equivalent in any foreign currency.
RA 10927 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.
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 up in Philippine casinos.
READ: Bangladesh thanks PH gov’t, Inquirer for return of stolen money
Founded 20 years ago, the AMLC said the APG is an “autonomous and collaborative international organization” consisting of 41 members, including FATF as well as regional and global observers. The Philippines was a founding member of the APG.
According to the AMLC, “APG members and observers are committed to the effective implementation and enforcement of internationally accepted standards against money laundering and the financing of terrorism, in particular the Forty Recommendations,” referring to the initiative aimed at combating the misuse of financial systems by money launderers. JPV
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