Senate to probe $100-M laundering via PH, says Osmeña
The Senate is set to investigate next week the reported $100 million laundered in the country last month and later moved out to overseas accounts, according to Sen. Serge Osmeña.
Osmeña on Thursday said the oversight committee on money laundering headed by Sen. Teofisto Guingona III would hold a hearing on Tuesday at 10 a.m., adding that the latter’s blue ribbon committee could also investigate the matter on its own.
“He’s (Guingona) going to call for a hearing on this on Tuesday morning,” Osmeña said.
“We will ask the Anti-Money Laundering Council to testify, to be a resource person. Then we will ask the Philrem, people through whom the money was remitted to this country.”
Philrem was the alleged foreign exchange firm that brokered the funds which entered the local financial system through an inward remittance processed at a Makati City branch of Rizal Commercial Banking Corp.
The funds, which were allegedly transferred to Solaire Resort and Casino, Midas Hotel and Casino, and City of Dreams Manila for a Macau-based client of a Filipino-Chinese junket operator, were reportedly used to either “buy chips” or “pay for casino losses.”
Osmeña said the two to three banks involved in the laundering activity would also be invited to the hearing.
According to the senator, who chairs the Senate committee on banks, one of the biggest “loopholes” of the Anti-Money Laundering Act (Amla) is the noninclusion of casinos in the coverage of the law.
When the Senate was amending the Amla, Osmeña said casinos lobbied against it.
He said then Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile also asked for casinos’ exclusion from coverage of the law, noting that at the time, the operations of big casino firms in the country like City of Dreams had not yet started.
Osmeña said he was willing to file a bill seeking to include casinos in the coverage of the law but said it might not have a good chance of passing in the Congress unless there was pressure from the Paris-based Financial Action Task Force for the country to comply with its requirements.
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