Senate approves bill to include casinos in AMLA

The Senate has officially approved the bill that includes casinos in the Anti-Money Laundering Act (AMLA), local media reports.

A total of 219 lawmakers approved the House Bill on Monday, with no negative votes or abstentions, while 21 senators voted in favor of Senate Bill on Tuesday.

Calls to include casinos in the AMLA came after a money-laundering scandal involving stolen funds from the Bangladesh Bank came to light in Philippines last year.

Senator Francis Escudero, chairman of the Senate Committee on Banks, Financial Institutions and Currencies, said that the bill will also include internet and ship-based casino operations into AMLA. 

Under the new bill, any single cash transaction in a casino involving in excess of P5 million (US100,300) or its equivalent in any other currency will now be considered as a “covered transaction.”

In a speech, Eastern Samar Representative Ben Evardone, chair of the banks and financial intermediaries committee reiterated the need for the judicial system to proactively identify and plug loopholes in legal and regulatory structures.

“As criminals continue to exploit identified weaknesses of the legal and regulatory structures and mechanisms of jurisdictions in order to surreptitiously launder the proceeds of their crime and make them beyond reach of the legal and judicial powers, the law enforcement and judicial system should likewise evolve to counter them,” he said.

Inclusion of casinos in the AMLA was one of the recommendations of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), where failure to do so may lead to the potential blacklisting of the Philippines.