All casinos to be covered by AML bill

A bill that mandates casinos to report all suspicious transactions to the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC), regardless of the amount, has been proposed in the Philippines’ House of Representatives, local media reports.

Quezon City Rep. Feliciano Belmonte Jr. said the bill will require all casinos, including Phillippines licensed online casinos, to report suspicious and covered transactions to the AMLC.

Belmonte’s bill states that regardless of the amount involved, should a casino operator or employee know, suspect, has reason to suspect a transaction involves funds from an unlawful activity or money laundering offense, it must be reported.

“The significance of including the casino sector under the coverage of the Anti-Money Laundering Law was underscored by the Bangladesh Bank heist. The funds entered the Philippine banking system and made their way to local casinos and junket operators, where the money was reportedly laundered and transferred overseas,” Belmonte said in his Explanatory Note.

“Attempts to trace and recover the money encountered several setbacks, as casinos are excluded from the coverage of the country’s present AMLA laws. This bill will address this deficiency by putting the necessary amendments to discourage the use of the casinos as avenues of illicit activity,” Belmonte said.

The bill will also grant the AMLC the power to conduct on-site inspections of gambling operators’ records and documents, including individual accounts deemed related to any unlawful activity.