Work begins to strengthen AML laws

The Philippines government has begun the process to strengthen its AML and bank secrecy laws, Reuters reports.

Starting May 10, the Department of Finance said it was working with the Anti-Money Laundering Council and the Central Bank to include casinos into the list of entities covered by anti-money laundering law.

A draft bill has been submitted to Congress, it said.

“Weaknesses and loopholes in our legal frameworks breed risk; we intend to stamp these out as best we can,” said Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima.

The exclusion of casinos from anti-money laundering laws opened up loopholes in the system that allowed US$81 million to pass through Manila’s banks and casinos.

The Finance Department has also proposed tax evasion, among other crimes, as a component crime of money laundering, and has also proposed the expansion of the powers of the anti-money laundering council.

It is also seeking to lift restrictions on bank secrecy of both peso and foreign currency deposits.

According to Reuters, as the Philippines held presidential and congressional elections on May 9, the new Senate and House of Representatives can only convene in July.

It is unlikely that the bill will be presented before then.