Gov’t, AMLC, renew vow to combat ‘dirty money’

By: ManilaBulletin
Source: manilabulletin

The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP)-led Anti Money Laundering Council (AMLC) said Tuesday, Feb. 20, that it has secured once more the full commitment of various government agencies to strengthen the fight against money-laundering and terrorist financing in the country.

“In the meeting (on Feb. 7), all concerned agencies expressed commitment to complete their respective action plan items,” said AMLC Secretariat Executive Director Matthew M. David in a statement.

David is talking about the different state agencies’ commitment to complete their respective deliverables to boost the country’s anti-money laundering and combating financing of terrorism (AML/CFT) efforts.

The ALMC official did not mention it, but these efforts are intended to ensure that the Philippines will be removed from the global watchdog, Financial Action Task Force’s (FATF) “gray list” as soon as possible.

AMLC said that during the Feb. 7 meeting with supervisors, regulators, prosecutors, and law enforcement agencies, they were able to thresh out some issues and discussed “completing their respective deliverables by the end of the year” which is “consistent with (President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr.’s) intention to improve the country’s position in the global fight against financial crimes.”

The BSP said the FATF, which is a global inter-governmental body that sets AML/CFT standards, has recommended earlier to further strengthen the Philippines’ AML/CFT regime through action plans in the following areas: designated non-financial businesses and professions (DNFBPs), casino junkets, beneficial ownership, money laundering and terrorism financing prosecution, and cross border declaration measures.

“Through collaboration among the agencies, we are strengthening our resolve to address the remaining action plan items suggested by FATF and report the progress to the President,” said David.

The BSP said the “collaborative efforts taken by government agencies have resulted in increased compliance among DNFBPs, mitigation of risks in casino junkets, and a more robust beneficial ownership information database.”

“The Philippines has also improved its implementation of cross-border currency declaration measures and has increased its AML/CFT investigation and prosecution. The private sector is likewise encouraged to further contribute to the shared goal by complying with relevant laws and regulations,” added the BSP.

On Feb. 21 to 23, 2024, the Paris-based FATF will have its fifth plenary under the Singapore Presidency of T. Raja Kumar, which was two years. FATF Week has started on Monday.

According to the FATF, the plenary will have 200 delegates including the International Monetary Fund, the United Nations, the World Bank, INTERPOL and the Egmont Group of Financial Intelligence Units. All of these members will participate in the Working Group and Plenary meetings in Paris during FATF Week, it said.

“Delegates will discuss key issues including the impact of the rapid development of cross-border payment technologies and guidance to help countries with the risk-based implementation of Recommendation 25 related to the beneficial ownership and transparency of legal arrangements. (They) will also discuss the progress made by some jurisdictions identified as presenting a risk to the global financial system,” said FATF.

To get out of the FATF’s gray list, the Philippines through the AMLC has submitted its latest progress report in mid-January.

The Philippines has been one of jurisdictions closely watched by FATF since June 2021. As a watchlisted country, it means the Philippines is subject to increased monitoring and is required to actively work with the FATF. Failure to be removed from the gray list will have an impact on the country’s financial reputation on a global scale.

The FATF recently held its annual plenary meeting in Bangkok for the Asia Pacific Group (APG) on Money Laundering. The Philippine delegation usually consists of AMLC members, the BSP, and the Securities and Exchange Commission, among others.

The FATF assessors have also visited the country to review and evaluate the progress made on AML/CFT action plans.