FORMER president and now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo has accused the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) of being a political tool of the previous Aquino administration.
In a statement, Arroyo alleged that the AMLC leaked the records of bank accounts of then Davao City mayor and presidential candidate Rodrigo Duterte, said to have contained P211 million, during the campaign period, which the AMLC and the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) have denied.
“The AMLC, whose officers were appointed by the previous administration, has demonstrated the potential of being used as a tool of selective justice. In the previous administration, grossly inaccurate information on the alleged bank accounts of then presidential candidate Rodrigo Duterte and other perceived opponents of the officers’ appointing authority were leaked out,” Arroyo, one of the 13 deputy speakers in the House of Representatives, said.
“In contrast, information is now being withheld from authorized investigators on the bank accounts of certain persons under investigation who happen to be identified with the previous authority which appointed them, and to whom they seem to owe their allegiance,” she added, in apparent reference to the efforts of the Justice department to examine the bank accounts of those allegedly involved in the drug trade at the New Bilibid Prison, such as Sen. Leila de Lima and her former boyfriend and bodyguard Ronnie Dayan.
Arroyo, however, did not specify which law was violated by the AMLC.
Under the Bank Secrecy Law, all deposits “may not be examined, inquired or looked into by any person, government official, bureau or office, except upon written permission of the depositor, or in cases of impeachment, or upon order of a competent court in cases of bribery or dereliction of duty of public officials, or in cases where the money deposited or invested is the subject matter of the litigation.”
The Anti -Money Laundering Law provides that the AMLC can file an ex-parte petition for a freeze order on assets in question with the Court of Appeals after the council’s determination that these were used in unlawful activities.
The Anti Money Laundering law also states that if there is no case filed against a person whose account has been frozen within the period determined by the court, the freeze order shall be deemed lifted. The rule however does not apply to pending cases in the courts.
In any case, the court should act on a petition to freeze within 24 hours from the filing of the petition.
Arroyo has filed House Bill 731 to amend Section 128 of the Central Bank Act “to insulate the BSP officials from the actuations of AMLC, especially the political ones which may be influenced by the Council officials’ loyalty to their appointing authority.”
“The BSP should be liberated from the burden of supervising the very rigorous demands of criminal investigation such as those performed by AMLC,” Arroyo said.
AMLC Chairman and BSP Governor Amando Tetangco is a “fine career technocrat,” Arroyo said, but “his supervision over the AMLC has exposed some problems.”
“The said agency has been acting much on its own with regard to its investigations, without bothering to get specific clearances from the BSP governor,” Arroyo claimed.