• Bill allows Bangko Sentral to snoop

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    The House of Representatives has passed a bill that will authorize the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (Bangko Sentral) to snoop into the financial records and gather pertinent information from individuals as government and non-government entities.

    House Bill 5875 or the New Central Bank Act was passed on third and final reading. The measure gives the Bangko Sentral the power to require any person or entity—including government offices and instrumentalities as well as government owned and controlled corporations—to provide the Bangko Sentral any data or information for statistical and policy development purposes in relation to the proper discharge of its functions and responsibilities.

    At present, the Bangko Sentral is only allowed to request for such records.

    The disaggregated data or information gathered under the New Central Bank Act, however, will be subject to the confidentiality and deposit secrecy laws.

    This means that the information on individuals and entities other than

    banks gathered by Bangko Sentral will not be made available to any person or entity outside the Bangko Sentral, whether publicly or privately.

    The individual or firm-level data or information furnished by a respondent to a statistical inquiry or survey will be considered privileged communication and will be inadmissible as evidence in any court proceedings

    Those who will refuse to provide the required data or information face one year imprisonment and a P100,000 fine. In case of a corporation, the penalty will be imposed against the responsible officer, director, manager and/or agent of said corporation.

    An erring corporation or any other juridical entity, depending on the category of the enterprise or business concerned, will be imposed a fine ranging from P100,000 to P500,000.

    The breach of protocol on secrecy has consequences, too, although the penalties are relatively light.

    Any person—including parties within the Monetary Board and the Bangko Sentral—who breach the confidentiality rule will be liable to a fine of P5,000 to P10,000 or imprisonment of three months to one year, or both.

    The New Central Bank Act provides that no court should issue any temporary restraining order, preliminary injunction, or preliminary mandatory injunction against the Bangko Sentral for any action, except for the Supreme Court and the Court of Appeals.

    In addition to providing policy directions in the areas of money, banking and credit, as well as supervising the operations of banks and exercise regulatory powers on the operations of finance companies and non-bank financial institutions performing quasi-banking functions, the new bill will allow the Bangko Sentral to exercise the abovementioned functions on credit card companies, money changing businesses, pawnshops, e-money issuers, money forwarding business, payment and settlement system operators and other institutions performing similar functions as may be determined by the Monetary Board.

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