Senate ratifies final version of bill fortifying AMLA
MANILA, Philippines — The Senate on Wednesday ratified the final version of a bill seeking to strengthen the Anti-Money Laundering Act (AMLA).
During the plenary session, the chamber ratified the bicameral conference committee report on the disagreeing provisions of Senate Bill No. 1945 and House Bill No. 7904.
“There were many conflicting provisions…but through the hard work and perseverance of our colleagues…we were able to reconcile these differences,” Senator Grace Poe, sponsor of the bill in the Senate, said.
According to Poe, the bicameral conference committee, composed of senators and House lawmakers, agreed to use the lower chamber’s version “as the working draft.”
“From there, the common and reconciled provisions were assimilated,” she said.
Poe said that the bicam “readily accepted” the Senate’s proposal that transactions above P500,000 of all offshore gaming operators (Pogos) be included within the purview of AMLA.
“This shows both the Senate’s and the House’s commitment in making sure that Pogos and service providers are regulated and are not made as avenues for nefarious activity in the country,” she added.
Under the reconciled version of the bill, real estate brokers and developers will be included “as covered persons but only for single cash transactions involving an amount in excess of P7.5 million.”
“This qualification sufficiently narrows down the burden reportorial requirements to the high-risk transactions that are usually flagged in money laundering regimes,” Poe said.
The proposed Senate amendment that would increase the reporting threshold of the Land Registration Authority (LRA) from P500,000 to P5 million was deleted from the bicam version “to retain the current coverage.”
Further, Poe said that the Senate and the House agreed that tax crime covered by the amendments “shall be limited only to tax evasion as provided under Section 254 of the National Internal Revenue Code, as amended.”
“This is in line with the fact that tax evasion or the attempt thereof is the provision most correlated with the crime of money laundering,” she added.
After “key negotiations” in the bicam, Poe said it was agreed upon that “additional but limited investigative powers” be provided to the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC).
These powers include the power “to apply for the issuance of a search and seizure warrant before any competent court, as well as the power to apply for the issuance of the subpoena with any competent court.”
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