No Wirecard money in PH, but AMLC to ‘hold unscrupulous individuals accountable’
MANILA, Philippines – The government’s dirty money watchdog has found no indications that any of the missing $.19 billion of German electronic payments firm Wirecard AG ever landed on Philippine shores, confirming an earlier central bank pronouncement.
In a statement on Friday, the Anti-Money Laundering Council said it “swiftly launched a multi-pronged investigation” on the controversy once the issue became public last month to determine if any of the illicit funds entered the country.
“As has been previously stated, current available evidence shows that the money did not enter the Philippine banking system,” the agency said. “We have systems in place that send us red flags in case of huge or suspicious transactions.”
It added that in response to the fraud at the financial technology giant, all relevant institutions in the Philippines were mobilized to investigate, announce relevant findings, and ensure that clear and credible information was made available to the public.
An investigation by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas’ financial supervision sector — which focuses on determining whether any banking regulations were breached — “is well underway,” the agency said.
The AMLC which, by law, is also chaired by the central bank governor, said that “strong financial oversight has always been one of the hallmarks of the Philippines’ economic success.”
“Over the years, the BSP has instituted reforms that have promoted good corporate governance and effective risk management systems,” it explained. “These include strict regulations on the disqualification and watch-listing of erring bank officers. These regulations prevent individuals found as unfit from becoming officers in all BSP-supervised entities.”
“These measures will be used with their full force against any individual found culpable of wrongdoing,” it vowed.
To date, the AMLC has also issued regulations in relation to the identification of the beneficial owner of accounts, as well as guidelines for designated non-financial businesses and professions, which cover the so-called gatekeepers, such as lawyers and accountants, requiring them to comply with their obligations under the Anti-Money Laundering Act on know-your-customer requirements, record-keeping, and transaction-reporting.
“We continue to emphasize the importance of well-established risk culture in supervised entities,” it said, adding that it is “because of a sound regulatory environment and proactive industry response” that the Philippine banking system has remained strong and stable, playing a significant role in fueling economic growth over the years.
The BSP and the AMLC are working with the National Bureau of Investigation on the matter and are “open to coordination with concerned international authorities to hold unscrupulous individuals accountable.”
“Committed to full transparency on the matter, the BSP and the AMLC will be sharing updates on the issue as investigations progress,” it said. [ac]
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