The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is reviving its call to include casinos in covered institutions obliged to report any suspicious monetary transaction to the Anti-Money Laundering Council.
The call is a pre-emptive move against any possible inclusion of the Philippines in the “gray list” of the Paris-based Financial Action Task Force (FATF).
SEC Chairperson Teresita Herbosa told reporters late Tuesday night that the agency has renewed its bid to amend the Anti-Money Laundering Act.
“Of course, we are pushing for the casinos’ inclusion. We [SEC] have the international commitment to do so. Worldwide, casinos are already covered. Perhaps, we are one of the few countries which have not included casinos as covered persons [juridical entity],” Herbosa said.
The AMLC is composed of the governor of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas as chairman, the commissioner of the Insurance Commission and the SEC chairman as members.
Herbosa said there is a pending bill at the House of Representatives that will include casinos to be one of the covered institutions, which will be legally required to report suspicious transactions to the AMLC.
Congress will resume its session in May.
“We have been pushing for that even prior to the amendment of the law [RA 9160] in 2013. But at the last minute and for some reason, the casinos were removed from the list of covered persons [natural or juridical], which are obliged to report to the AMLC [Anti-Money Laundering Council],” Herbosa said.
Under the law, the institutions, among others that are legally bound to report suspicious transactions regardless of the amount, and any transactions of P500,000 and above to the AMLC are foreign exchange corporations, money changers, insurance companies, securities brokers and dealers, and property firms.
“If we are not able to do that, of course, the international anti-money laundering group, the Financial Action Task Force, might again put us in the gray list. Three years ago we were placed under the gray list, that’s why we had to pass those amendments, unfortunately the casinos were excluded at the last minute,” Herbosa said.
The FATF is asking us again, what are the plans and the status of the casinos, we really need to push for their inclusion so that we will be able to combat the facilitation of dirty money in the country. Also, we do not want to be placed in their [FATF] gray list,” Herbosa said.
Being placed under the “gray-list’ means that the anti-money laundering measures of the country are deemed inadequate, which could, therefore, discourage legitimate investments from coming into the country.