Money laundering law needs to catch up with felons – Chua
MANILA, Philippines — Manila Rep. Joel Chua wants limits on financial transactions, as set by the Anti-Money Laundering Act, adjusted so the government could keep pace with “criminals” trying to cover up their financial tracks.
The law sets these limits at P500,000 per banking day, P5 million for casino cash transactions, and P7.5 million for single cash transactions on real estate. The Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) may look into any amounts beyond those limits.
But Chua said the council should be given “the flexibility to adjust the thresholds of covered transactions and set shorter reporting deadlines.”
“These flexibilities would be needed so the AMLC can be at least at pace with or faster than the criminals,” he said in a statement on Saturday.
‘Breaking up amounts’
Chua recommended further that “If the AMLC has proposed amendments … along these lines, I am open to possibly authoring the needed bill.”
The congressman noted that criminal transactions through online payments and transfers happen in a matter of minutes or even seconds.
He said this is “more than enough time for criminals to move millions of pesos, dollars and other currencies in amounts just under the reportable covered transactions threshold in the Amla.”
Furthermore, artificial intelligence (AI) may help evade detection “by breaking up the amounts to make it appear there is no suspicious pattern of activity,” Chua said.
“If these criminal syndicates are using artificial intelligence software to evade our anti-money laundering and cybercrime laws, my concern is that P500,000 and P5 million thresholds may not be enough,” he added.
Chua warned further that safeguards and monitoring by banks, e-payment applications, and AMLC itself may be easily avoided “by using a combination of AI and other technologies.”
The council should also look into offshore gaming operations and online gambling for suspicious transactions, Chua said, as he noted that the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. early this month had placed all Philippine offshore gaming operators (Pogos) on probation.
The regulator had said that Pogos are now required anew to apply for their license to operate, adding that their probationary status should help curb criminal activities hounding these gaming hubs.
Chua said AMLC’s expertise and mandate will be a boost to cybercrime investigations and audits of suspicious transactions in gambling operations.
“The AMLC would also learn much from how offshore and online games are done. That knowledge and understanding would be useful in detecting suspicious transactions that could be part of money laundering, large-scale estafa, scams, and other criminal activities,” the lawmaker said.