• Binay raises alarm over rising remittance fees

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    Vice President Jejomar Binay has expressed “deep concern” over the recent moves of United States (US) banks to restrict the use of their facilities for international money transfers in response to regulatory pressure from the US government.

    “In particular, a plan to increase remittance fees would adversely impact [the]millions of Filipinos in the United States who regularly send money to their families in the Philippines,” Binay said in a letter to Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) Governor Amando Tetangco Jr.

    The Vice President, who is the Presidential Adviser on Overseas Filipino Workers’ (OFW) Concerns, expressed optimism that the BSP will look for solutions to mitigate the impact of the restrictions.

    “I take note of the efforts of the BSP to address this development and I am optimistic that you will make the needed representations and take the needed steps to mitigate the effects of such policies on our kababayans (fellow Filipinos) in the US,” he said.

    According to the New York Times, Bank of America, JP Morgan Chase, and Citigroup have scrapped programs that allowed migrant workers to send money back to their families at a reduced cost, in response to increased regulation.

    The increased regulation is part of the US government’s efforts to curb money-laundering activities after a series of money laundering scandals.

    In 2012, HSBC was accused of failing to monitor more than $670 billion in wire transfers and more than $9.4 billion in purchases of US currency from HSBC Mexico.

    HSBC admitted to laundering money for drug cartels and agreed to pay a $1.9-billion settlement to avoid lawsuit.

    The US has been the biggest source of OFW remittances in recent years, with almost $10 billion remitted to the country in 2013 alone.

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