Philippines Senate discusses money laundering bill

The amendment is intended to comply with FATF regulations.
The amendment is intended to comply with FATF regulations.

If passed into law, the amendment could impact casino and POGO transactions above US$104,000.

The Philippines.- The Senate has begun debating a proposed amendment to the Anti-Money Laundering Act of 2001 which could affect the operations of casinos and Philippine offshore gaming operators (POGOs)

The amendment has been put forward to comply with Financial Action Task Force (FATF) recommendations and to avoid sanctions. It was certified as “urgent” by President Rodrigo Duterte.

Senator Grace Poe, chairman of the Senate banks and financial institutions committee and sponsor of Bill No. 1945, said that it was of utmost importance to address the issue in order to avoid the costs of non-compliance with international standards on money laundering.

The bill, if passed, would have an impact on real estate developers and brokers as well as casinos, POGOs and their services providers.

The amendment places casino operators under the scope of the Anti-Money Laundering Act (AMLA) and defines what large single cash transactions must be labelled as suspicious. In the case of casinos, this would apply to all individual transactions exceeding Php 5m (US$103,999).

The main goal of the change is to avoid being grey-listed by the FATF, which has given the Philippines until February 2021 to make the changes to its anti-money laundering legislation.

The amendment strengthens the AMLA by allowing the enforcement of financial sanctions and facilitating prosecutions of money laundering overseas.

In June 2021, the FATF is due to make a decision on whether the Philippines will be grey-listed. The country has been on the FATF blacklist once before, from 2000 to 2005.

If signed into law, senators noted that this would be the fifth time that the AMLA would be amended following recommendations from the FATF.

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