After intense scrutiny from both chambers of Congress and the President himself, a legislation that will put casinos within the ambit of the Anti-Money Laundering Act is now a law, according to Sen. Chiz Escudero, who has been in the forefront of including the gaming industry under the coverage of AMLA.
Republic Act No. 10927, which amended Republic Act No. 9160 or the Anti-Money Laundering Act of 2001, was signed by President Rodrigo Roa Duterte on July 14, 2017.
The law secured the approval of the Chief Executive shortly before the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) flew to Colombo, Sri Lanka for the Annual Asia/Pacific Group on Money Laundering (APG) Meeting and Forum on Technical Assistance, which will be held until July 21.
“I would like to thank the President for signing this into law right in time for the APG meeting. Now that we have already complied with the guidelines, we are hopeful that the country will no longer be put in the blacklist,” Escudero said.
“AMLC was able to update the APG during their annual meeting in Sri Lanka that we have already passed the law. But according to them, the APG will still be monitoring the country until the law is already in force,” the veteran lawmaker added.
Escudero, chairman of the Senate Committee on Banks, Financial Institutions and Currencies, has long been urging the Senate to pass the amendments to AMLA in order to meet the deadline imposed by the APG. During its plenary meeting in September 2016, the APG decided to give the Philippines until June 2017 to pass the required legislation.
Escudero said he had high hopes that the inclusion of casinos under the AMLA coverage, as recommended by the global anti-money laundering watchdog Financial Action Task Force (FATF), is enough for the country to avoid its potential blacklisting.
In 2013, even after the enactment of RA No. 10365, which further strengthened the anti-money laundering drive and removed the country from the FATF’s list of vulnerable jurisdictions, casinos were still not covered by AMLA.
The blacklist, Escudero reiterated, will put the Philippines under stringent financial monitoring and affect remittances from overseas Filipino workers (OFWs).
Last year, Escudero said the country “barely escaped” the FATF blacklist after hackers stole $81 million from the account of Bangladesh Bank in the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, and was then diverted to four fake bank accounts in the Philippines.
According to Escudero, under RA 10927, casinos, including internet and ship-based casinos, with respect to their casino cash transactions related to their gaming operations, shall be considered as “covered persons.” A single casino cash transaction involving an amount in excess of P5 million or its equivalent in any other currency will be considered as a “covered transaction.”
The law also authorizes the Court of Appeals to issue a 20-day freeze order on monetary instruments and property which is in any way related to unlawful activity.
During the 20-day period, the CA will conduct a summary hearing to determine whether to lift or modify the freeze order or to extend its effectivity. The total period of the freeze order, however, shall not exceed six months.