THE Senate is set to conduct its own inquiry on reports that drug syndicates are using casinos to launder drug money by converting them into chips.
Sen. Nancy Binay has filed Senate resolution 539 directing the proper Senate committees to conduct an inquiry in aid of legislation regarding the reported drug dealing happening inside casinos.
Binay was prompted to file a resolution following news reports that came out last month quoting an official of the Philippine National Police (PNP) Anti-Illegal Drug Special Operations Task Force (AIDSOTF) who said that drug transactions are taking place inside casino quarters.
The police official claimed that as replacement for money, drugs are being sold in exchange for casino chips and that such acts constitute money laundering.
But reports about the cited modus operandi of drug dealers are not new. The Manila Times published a 2012 story on the modus based on a copy of a report from the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency.
According to the report, “Casinos and other similar gambling establishments are also reported to have been used in transacting drug deals wherein payments for the illegal drugs are converted into casino chips to avoid handling marked money.”
It added that drug dealers find casinos as ideal places to launder drug money because it can easily be turned into casino chips that can be exchange later for cash.
There is also no limit on the amount of money to be exchanged because the government, particularly the anti-money laundering council (AMLC), does not have the power to look into transactions made inside casinos.
This is because casinos are not in the list of establishments covered by the AMLC.
Republic Act 10365 also known as An Act Further Strengthening the Anti-Money Laundering Law, which was signed by President Benigno Aquino 3rd last year, did not include casinos as among the institutions covered by the AMLC.
AMLC coverage was expanded but it only includes foreign exchange dealers, pawnshops, moneychangers, remittance and transfer companies and other similar entities and pre-need companies.
Besides casinos, the Times also published articles on drug dealers using shopping malls and even cockpit arenas for their illegal transactions.