P1.7B in laundered funds, $1M from terrorists seized to date by AMLC
The Philippine government—through the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) — has seized almost P1.7 billion in funds suspected of having come from illegal activities, the head of the country’s top Financial Intelligence unit said on Tuesday.
In a statement, AMLC executive director Mel Georgie Racela said these frozen assets included approximately $1 million in funds seized from parties suspected of being involved in terrorism — an achievement that was made possible by “collaboration with domestic law enforcement agencies.”
“The estimated value of assets subject to civil forfeiture from 2018 to September 2019 alone has already amounted to over P600 million, bringing the total to nearly PhP1.7 billion, beginning 2017,” he said in his remarks during the 5th Counterterrorism Financing Summit held recently in Manila.
The summit addressed a range of key and emerging money laundering and terrorism financing issues, such as child exploitation, human trafficking, wildlife smuggling, trade-based money laundering, and corruption. The abuse of crowdfunding, social media platforms, and virtual assets was also considered.
Meanwhile, National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperanto Jr. said that since money was the lifeblood of terrorists and organized crime syndicates, they would be unable to operate without it.
“Cutting off their life source is thus a crucial step to undermine their capabilities and frustrate their ability to carry out terrorist attacks,” he said. “This is where we have to step up our financial intelligence capabilities to determine how illicit funds are raised or generated, moved or transferred, and used.”
The summit was hosted by the AMLC in partnership with the Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre (Austrac) and the Indonesian Financial Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre and held on Nov. 12-14, 2019, at the Bonifacio Global City, Taguig.
Attendees included officials and experts from financial intelligence units, senior representatives from the policy, regulatory, law enforcement and national security agencies, the FinTech and RegTech industries, multilateral bodies, think tank organizations and the academe.
Austrac CEO Nicole Rose commended the broadening of the scope of the summit to now incorporate serious transnational crimes. She also emphasized the sharpened focus of the summit on creating opportunities for operational engagement among the region’s FIUs and the private sector leading to production of actionable financial intelligence for use by the region’s law enforcement agencies.
Meanwhile, Indonesian Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati highlighted the economic and human costs of transnational organized crimes that included environmental crimes, terrorist financing, corruption, and tax evasion. She drew attention to new financial technologies that helped drive global trade while recognizing the dangers they posed when abused by criminals. In response, she called for greater domestic and international cooperation and increased information-sharing to combat these threats. INQ