Filipino Abroad Remittance Corner: Anti-Money Laundering

Anti-Money Laundering

In order to implement its continued commitment and support of the global fight against money laundering, the BSP has issued a number of measures to bring the Philippines' regulatory regime on money laundering closer to international standards. In September 2001, the Anti-Money Laundering Act (AMLA) of 2001 was passed. The legislation, among others, defines money laundering as a criminal offense, prescribes penalties for such crimes committed and forms the foundation of a central monitoring and implementing council called the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC).

The AMLC is composed of the Governor of the Bangko Sentral as Chairman and the Commisioner of the Insurance Commission and the Chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission as members. It acts unanimously in the discharge of its functions.

To address concerns such as the high threshold level for covered transactions, the coverage of “covered institutions” and the existing Bank Secrecy Law, the amendments to the AMLA were signed into law on 7 March 2003. The amendments included the following: a) lowering the threshold for covered transactions from P4.0 million to P500,000; b) authorizing the BSP to inquire or examine any deposit or investment with any banking institution without court order in the course of a periodic or special examination; and c) removing the provision prohibiting the retroactivity of the law. With the approval of the law incorporating these amendments, the Financial Action Task Force sanctions on non-complying countries were not imposed on the Philippines. However, the Philippines at that time remained in the list of non-cooperative countries and territories (NCCTs). The country’s removal from the list will be determined by the FATF after close monitoring of the implementation issues.

The revised implementing rules and regulations (IRR) on the AMLA of 2001 as amended was approved by the Congressional Oversight Committee on 6 August 2003 and was implemented on 3 September 2003. In October 2003, the Philippines’ amendments to the AMLA were evaluated by the FATF and were found to be at par with international standards. On 11 February 2005, the Philippines, Cook Islands, and Indonesia were removed from the list of NCCTs during the meeting of the FATF. After the country’s delisting from the list of NCCT’s, the AMLC of the Philippines is now one of seven new members of the Egmont Group, the global network of FIUs against money laundering and terrorist financing, making the Philippines an equal partner in the global fight against money laundering and terrorist financing.

Membership to the Egmont Group means affording AMLC free and unlimited access to a wealth of financial data contained in the databases of all the FIU-members of the group. All information exchanged by FIUs are subjected to strict controls and safeguards to ensure it is used only in an authorized manner, consistent with national provisions on privacy and data protection

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