Quantcast
pork barrel

Casinos get a pass in laundering law



AFP FILE PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines—Casinos were given a free pass as Congress Wednesday passed a tougher law against money-laundering but protected the government’s bid to chase mega-dollars in Asia’s gaming boom.

The amendments passed by the Senate and House of Representatives apply to businesses other than banks and aim to stop the funneling of proceeds from criminal activity, as well as to block terror funding.

They also raise prison terms and fines.

However, Senator Teofisto Guingona said casinos and Internet gaming were excluded at the request of the House and of the state regulator Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp.

“(They) excluded casinos from coverage because (House members) warned it would deter investors. That’s the number one reason. And number two, Pagcor,” Guingona told reporters, referring to the regulator’s abridged name.

The Senate’s passage of the law came five weeks before the opening of Entertainment City, a $4 billion Manila casino complex aimed at rivalling Macau, Las Vegas and Singapore as a gaming hub.

The latest changes to a 2001 statute are now expected to be signed into law by President Benigno Aquino. Banks were already covered under the 2001 law.

The new law’s passage followed a threat last year to blacklist the Philippines unless it assumes greater powers to scrutinize non-bank accounts, including casinos.

The threat was made by the Financial Action Task Force, an inter-governmental body fighting money-laundering and terrorist financing.

Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile conceded the amendments fell short of full compliance.

“We have produced enough compliance with the requirements of the FATF, but we have to go slowly since some other countries have different circumstances,” Enrile told reporters, citing potential fallout on investments and tourism.

Guingona said the amendments also excluded Internet gambling as well as proceeds from tax evasion. “These are major items, so the law would still have a big loophole,” he said.

He said the FATF would meet in Paris on February 18 to review Philippine compliance with international standards.

“(We) will know whether what we have passed is enough for us to get out of the dark grey list,” he said, referring to countries whose efforts to combat money-laundering fell below international standards.

Guingona said inclusion in the FATF blacklist of deliberately non-compliant states would make it difficult for millions of Filipinos working abroad to send money home and hard for Filipinos to invest abroad.


Follow Us




Recent Stories:

Complete stories on our Digital Edition newsstand for tablets, netbooks and mobile phones; 14-issue free trial. About to step out? Get breaking alerts on your mobile.phone. Text ON INQ BREAKING to 4467, for Globe, Smart and Sun subscribers in the Philippines.

Tags: casino , Congress , gambling , Laws , Money Laundering




Copyright © 2014, .
To subscribe to the Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper in the Philippines, call +63 2 896-6000 for Metro Manila and Metro Cebu or email your subscription request here.
Factual errors? Contact the Philippine Daily Inquirer's day desk. Believe this article violates journalistic ethics? Contact the Inquirer's Reader's Advocate. Or write The Readers' Advocate:
c/o Philippine Daily Inquirer Chino Roces Avenue corner Yague and Mascardo Streets, Makati City, Metro Manila, Philippines Or fax nos. +63 2 8974793 to 94
Advertisement
Advertisement
Marketplace
Advertisement