SENATORS on Tuesday unanimously agreed to amend the Anti-Money Laundering Act (AMLA) to include casinos under watch to strengthen the country’s fight against money laundering.
With 21 affirmative votes, the Senate approved on third and final reading Senate Bill 1468 that seeks to add teeth to AMLA by requiring casinos to report all gaming-related transactions in excess of P500,000.
The law established the Anti-Money Laundering Council to ensure that the country will not be “used as a money laundering site for the proceeds of any unlawful activity.”
It also required the government to cooperate “in transnational investigations and prosecutions of persons involved in money laundering activities wherever committed.”
Sen. Francis Escudero, chairman of the Senate Committee on Banks, Financial Institutions and Currencies and sponsor of SBN 1468, said that the bill also include in AMLA’s coverage Internet and ship-based casino operations in the country.
Under the bill, any single casino cash transaction involving in excess of five million or its equivalent in any other currency will now be considered as a “covered transaction.”
The approval of SB 1468 and its possible enactment could spare the Philippines from being blacklisted by an international anti-money laundering watchdog that reminded the country on the need to amend AMLA.
The Asia/Pacific Group on Money Laundering (APG) last year urged the Philippines to include casinos among those covered by the anti-money laundering law.
Escudero said failure to enact the required legislation within the given time frame would put the Philippines under monitoring of the International Corporation Review Group of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) that could eventually result in the blacklisting of the Philippines.
A blacklist tag would put the country under stringent international financial scrutiny, which might increase the cost of bank transactions abroad and affect the remittances from Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs).