House approves bill further strengthening Anti-Money Laundering Act

THE House of Representatives approved on second reading HB 6565, further strengthening the Anti-Money Laundering Law, amending Republic Act 9160 or the Anti-Money Laundering Act of 2001.

HB 6565, principally authored by Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr., Majority Leader Neptali Gonzales II (Lone District, Madaluyong City) and Minority Leader Danilo Suarez (3rd District, Quezon), was approved in consolidation with HB 6511 and HB 6557.

“The measure seeks to strengthen further the anti-money laundering law by making it compliant with updated and revised international anti-money laundering/counter-terrorist financing standards,” the Speaker said.

The bill would clearly honor the country’s commitments under the Vienna Convention of 1988 and the Palermo Convention of 2001, Gonzales explained.

The proposed amendatory statute, the authors said, revises the definition of money laundering to include conversion, transfer, disposition, movement, acquisition, possession, use, concealment or disguise of the proceeds of any unlawful activity.

While expanding the list of financial institutions covered, the bill provides for the inclusion of designated non-financial businesses and professions as reporting institution– casinos; real estate agents; dealers in precious metals; dealers in precious stones, and trust company service providers, said Rep. Sergio Apostol (2nd District, Leyte), chairman of the sponsoring Committee on Banks and Financial Intermediaries.

The proposed statute also provides for additional unlawful activities to money laundering – terrorism and terrorist financing, trafficking in human beings, sexual exploitation of children, corruption and bribery, forgery and environmental crimes.

Another vital provision added is granting AMLC the authority to file a civil forfeiture case upon determination of probable cause.

Likewise, the bill allows AMLC to retain twenty five (25%) percent of net proceeds of forfeited assets, and granting AMLC the authority to impose administrative sanctions.

Other principal authors of the consolidated measure are: Reps. Juan Edgardo Angara (Lone District, Aurora); Sherwin Tugna (Party-list, CIBAC); Cinchona Cruz-Gonzales (Party-list, CIBAC); Antonio Kho (2nd District, Masbate); Philip Pichay (1st District, Surigao del Sur); Jeci Lapus (3rd District, Tarlac), Monique Yasmin Lagdameo (1st District, Makati City); and Isidro Lico (Party-list, Ating Koop).

The authors noted that the country is a member of the Asia-Pacific Group on Money Laundering (APG), which is a regionally focused international organization consisting of forty-one (41) members and a number of international and regional observers including the United Nations, International Monetary Fund, Financial Action Task Force (FATF), Asian Development Bank and World Bank.

The APG, they added, is an associate member of the FATF and all APG members commit to effectively implement the FATF’s international standards for anti-money laundering and combating the financing of terrorism, referred to as the 40+9 Recommendations.

FATF was established in 1989 by G-7 nations.  The FATF is an international governmental body whose purpose is the development and promotion of policies, both at national and international levels, to combat money laundering and terrorist financing.

The Anti-Money Laundering Act of 2001 (RA 9160), as amended by RA 9194 was enacted following the FATF’s blacklisting of the Philippines in June 2000. To be blacklisted means that the Philippines is perceived to be “non-cooperative” in the global fight against money laundering and terrorist financing.

The bill, the authors further stated, addresses the noted deficiencies in the country’s legal framework with regard to anti-money laundering, by making the Philippines fully compliant with the international standards set forth not only by the FATF, but also directives laid down under the 1988 UN Convention Against Elicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (the Vienna Convention), the 2001 UN Convention Against Transnational Organized Crime (the Palermo Convention), the 2003 UN Convention Against Corruption (the Merida Convention), and other international standards in combating money laundering.

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