Poe presses for strengthened Anti-Money Laundering Act
MANILA, Philippines — Senator Grace Poe endorsed in the plenary on Wednesday a bill that would further strengthen the Anti-Money Laundering Act (AMLA).
In her sponsorship speech, Poe noted that Senate Bill No. 1945 is an important measure that requires the immediate attention of the Senate.
“We are implored to immediately act on it by the Asia Pacific Group on Money Laundering, ‘as a form of national economic emergency, due to the very serious economic costs’ arising from non-compliance,” she said.
Poe noted that the measure, which seeks to further amend the Anti-Money Laundering Act of 2001, was crafted as a response to the findings of the mutual evaluation report (MER) evaluating the country’s compliance with the 40 recommendations of the Financial Action Task Force on Money Laundering.
She warned that if lawmakers fail to act on the matter, the Financial Action Task Force-International Co-operation Review Group-Asia Pacific Joint Group or AP-JG will place the Philippines in the so-called “grey list,” along with other countries such as Albania, Pakistan, Panama, Syria, Uganda, and Zimbabwe.
“Being on this list is a very strong signal to market participants and regulators globally. It has implications which we must avoid as much as we can, especially during the time of a global pandemic,” said Poe.
She also noted that “MER recommends to include real estate developers and brokers as covered persons because of the fact that real estate activities are widely used as a front for money laundering and terrorism financing all over the world.”
“Thus, we include real estate developers and brokers in the list of covered persons when they engage in a single cash transaction of in excess of P5 million, or its equivalent in any other currency,” she added.
“To clarify the coverage of internet-based casinos, we also expressly specified the coverage of offshore gaming operators and their service providers,” Poe further said.
The proposed legislation also includes the “commission of tax crimes and violation of the Strategic Trade Management Act, which relates to the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and its financing, as predicate offenses to money laundering,” according to Poe.
Moreover, Poe explained that functions of AMLC will likewise be improved under the bill by:
- Enhancing its investigative powers through express powers of deputization, power to apply for search warrant, and power to obtain information on ultimate beneficial ownership
- Authorizing it to implement targeted financial sanctions on proliferation financing
- Authorizing it to preserve, manage or dispose assets subject of asset preservation order and judgment forfeiture
- Prohibiting the issuance of injunctive relief against freeze orders and forfeiture proceedings under its jurisdiction.
“I would like to take this opportunity to express my utmost gratitude to Sen. Franklin Drilon and his team for generous contributions during the drafting of this bill. His invaluable assistance is truly instrumental in the realization of our collective goal to make the Philippines a true global partner against money laundering,” said Poe.
“Fellow senators, we are given a very limited time to act on the measure,” she also said.
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