Senators have agreed to include a proviso in the second round of amendments to the Anti-Money Laundering Act (Amla) that would require casinos to report the presence on their premises of persons suspected of involvement in money laundering.
Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile said the amendment that he suggested would target those involved in criminal activities, “like jueteng lords, smugglers and drug lords.”
“If there is knowledge or suspicion by the casino that a person is inside specifically for money laundering, whether he bets P50 or P1 million, there is an obligation to report (him to the Anti-Money Laundering Council),” he said in Filipino in a radio interview.
“For example, if (the gambler) is a known drug lord or jueteng lord or whoever smuggler is there inside the casino, betting and buying chips regardless of the amount, as long as there is a suspicion or knowledge (of his criminal links), the casino must report that this person is playing there,” said Enrile.
Obligation of casinos
Amla amendments sponsor Sen. Teofisto Guingona III said the obligation of casinos, including establishments engaged in Internet gambling, to make a report “shall only arise when there is knowledge or suspicion of money laundering notwithstanding the transaction being covered.”
Initially, the senators discussed a proposal requiring the reporting of winnings of P500,000 and above to the AMLC.
Currently, the Amla requires all banks to report deposits of at least half a million pesos.
Some senators, however, are worried the proposal would discourage international high rollers from coming to the Philippines to gamble.
Guingona said other transactions that would have to be reported to the AMLC, as proposed, include those transactions made with foreign exchange dealers, remittance agents “and other similar entities,” preneed companies, dealers and traders in precious metals and precious stones, and real estate purchases “of at least P25 million.”
The bill amending the Amla has been certified urgent by President Aquino as the Philippines faces a blacklist by the Financial Action Task Force should Congress fail to pass it.
There are only three session days, including Monday, left for the Senate to approve the measure.
Enrile said he did not discount the possibility of an extra session day on Thursday in order to pass the bill.