Antilaundering council’s numbers up, but COA’s not pleased

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MANILA, Philippines—You can’t please everyone, it’s true, especially auditors.

The Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) has reported a fivefold increase in shady or flagged transactions it monitored in the year after a Supreme Court Chief Justice was ousted with its help.

Still, the Commission on Audit (COA) felt the AMLC had not done a good enough job at becoming a “world-class financial intelligence unit with its failure to meet the deadline to complete its P100-million computerization program five years ago.”

In a just released COA report, the number of “suspicious transactions” (or movements of cash, bonds and checks believed to be illicit in nature regardless of value) tracked by the AMLC surged by 509 percent to 59,408 transactions last year from 9,479 in 2010.

The AMLC also tracked 307,304,000 “covered transactions”—or bank deposits and withdrawals involving at least P500,000—in 2012 from 46,494,000 a year ago.

The increased AMLC activity was apparently spurred by the P30 million allocation it received in 2012, which was three times the amount it got in 2011.

The AMLC ordered a freeze on P3.329 billion in total bank deposits and investment accounts in 2012, of which more than half, or P1.772 billion, remained under its control pending the outcome of the civil forfeiture cases against these accounts.

The balance of P1.556 billion was returned to their owners after the AMLC conducted background checks on the account holders. The AMLC still had 101 active cases of money laundering and free-order petitions as of end-2012 after it resolved 170 cases last year.—Gil C. Cabacungan

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