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BSP says it needs help from other agencies in fight against money laundering

THE BANGKO SENTRAL ng Pilipinas (BSP) and the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) said a whole-of-government approach is needed for the country’s removal from the Financial Action Task Force’s (FATF) “gray list.”

“Well, we’ll try. It’s not completely dependent on us. We’ve always said all along that it’s a whole-of-government approach,” BSP Governor Felipe M. Medalla told reporters Tuesday evening when asked if the country can exit the FATF’s list of jurisdictions under increased monitoring by the government’s target of January 2023.

“It’s no longer us passing laws. They’re looking for more conviction, more prosecution, more people getting caught, and that’s very hard to ramp up in a very short period,” Mr. Medalla said. “But we will take actions to increase the chances that we’re going to exit.”

In an Oct. 21 report, the FATF said the Philippines is still in its gray list after the country failed to address strategic deficiencies against money laundering, terrorist financing and proliferation financing.

The Philippines has been on the list since June 2021. Government officials earlier expressed hope the Philippines can exit the gray list by January 2023.

“The AMLC remains optimistic that with the whole-of-nation approach, the Philippines will completely address all action plan items by the due date and eventually exit the FATF’s gray list,” the agency said in an e-mail on Wednesday.

The FATF said the country still needs to implement measures to address money laundering and terrorism financing risks related to casino junkets and beneficial ownership.

The Philippines should also enhance its use of financial intelligence and money laundering investigations and prosecutions in line with risk, according to the global dirty money watchdog.

It should also enhance and streamline law enforcement agencies’ access to beneficial ownership information and ensure accurate and up-to-date information.

Earlier this week, the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) announced that it partnered with the AMLC to strengthen efforts against money laundering, terrorism financing and other illicit financial activities in the country.

Under the partnership, the AMLC may enlist the assistance of the BIR in detecting and investigating money laundering activities and other violations of the Anti-Money Laundering Act.

The BSP earlier said proposed changes to the country’s Bank Secrecy Law will improve the Philippines’ efforts against money laundering and boost its chances of exiting the FATF’s gray list.

The proposed amendments seek to allow the BSP to examine deposits in relation to possible fraud, serious irregularity, or unlawful activity being committed by bank officials. — K.B. Ta-asan

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