Philippines needs to step up anti-money laundering drive

Asia's Tech News Daily

THE Philippines, which remains on the “gray list” of countries regarded to be a risk to the international financial system, has nevertheless made progress in countering money laundering and terrorism financing despite the obstacles posed by the Covid-19 pandemic, according to the Financial Action Task Force (FATF).

The international policymaking body said in a report released on Friday that a gray-listed country is still under increased monitoring, but the government has pledged to resolve strategic inadequacies within specified timelines.

The FATF praised these nations for their accomplishments in combatting money laundering and terrorism financing.

“Since June 2021, when the Philippines made a high-level political commitment to work with the FATF and APG (Asia Pacific Group) to strengthen the effectiveness of its AML/CFT (anti-money laundering and counterterrorism financing) regime, the Philippines has taken steps toward improving its AML/CFT regime, by developing and implementing guidance on delistings and the unfreezing of assets for targeted financial sanctions related to PF (proliferation financing),” the task force said.

The Philippines should continue to carry out effective risk-based supervision of designated non-financial businesses and professions. It should also:

– Prove that its supervisors are using AML/CFT controls to mitigate risks associated with casino junkets

– Implement the new registration requirements for money or value transfer services and applying sanctions to unregistered and illegal remittance operators

– Enhance law enforcement agency access to beneficial ownership (BO) information and take steps to ensure that BO information is accurate and up-to-date

– Demonstrate an increase in the use of financial intelligence and an increase in money laundering investigations and prosecutions in line with risk

– Show an increase in the identification, investigation and prosecution of terrorist financing cases

– Demonstrate that appropriate measures are taken with respect to the nonprofit organizations (NPO) sector (including unregistered NPOs) without disrupting legitimate NPO activity

– Enhance the effectiveness of the targeted financial sanctions framework for both TF and PF.

The Philippines was put back in the gray list last June. As a result, it needs to implement 18 International Cooperation Review Group action plan items within the FATF’s timeframes.

This prompted the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) to call for a whole-of-government approach to completing the actions required to remove the Philippines from the list.

“It must be emphasized that accomplishing the action items should be the concern of the entire country,” Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Governor Benjamin Diokno, who is also the AMLC chairman, has noted.

He said the Philippines’ National Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorism Financing Strategy for 2018 to 2022 emphasizes the importance of a whole-of-government strategy.

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