AMLC seeks swift resolution of money laundering cases
Lawrence Agcaoili (The Philippine Star) - September 23, 2020 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) is pushing for the swift resolution of administrative cases of money laundering and terrorism financing in the country by imposing lower penalties or fines on violators who immediately take steps to correct such violations.

AMLC Secretariat executive director Mel Georgie Racela issued AMLC Regulatory Issuance 5, laying down the enforcement action guidelines under Republic Act 9160 or the Anti-Money Laundering Act of 2001, as amended.

Racela said guidelines supplement the Rules of Procedure on Administrative Cases (RPAC) by providing procedures for the early resolution of administrative cases at the level of the Compliance and Supervision Group (CSG) prior to the filing of a formal charge.

“These guidelines describe the AMLC’s approach to exhaust, whenever appropriate, enforcement actions at the level of the CSG. Such approach shall allow the AMLC and the covered persons to save resources and covered persons’ board and senior management to take timely actions to correct such violations or deficiencies,” Racela said.

The guidelines cover anti-money laundering/ combating the financing of terrorism non-compliance including absence or inadequate board of directors and senior management oversight; deficiencies in money laundering and terrorism-financing prevention program, inadequate internal audit and control, violations on risk profiling and customer due diligence or know-your-customer procedures, among others.

According to Racela, enforcement actions are supervisory measures used when circumstances surrounding the non-compliance warrant a less severe form of supervisory action and the covered persons exhibit willingness to voluntarily address compliance issues within a reasonable period of time.

He also said the AMLC has developed the reduced assessment rates, taking into consideration the time and resources that the government would otherwise expend in pursuing a formal charge for compliance issues.

According to the AMLC, covered persons may opt to settle for reduced assessment during the process and pay only 25 percent of the supposed penalty if they adopt corrective measures immediately and cooperate with the AMLC during the assessment process.

Likewise, covered persons will pay only 10 percent of the supposed penalty in cases of voluntary disclosure, wherein they voluntary inform the AMLC of a possible violation prior to the discovery of the financial intelligence unit.

To qualify, the AMLC said covered persons should have good faith efforts to comply with the pertinent law, take timely and adequate corrective actions, and have a history of instituting timely remedial or corrective actions and establish procedures to prevent future violations.

Racela clarified the new guidelines are separate and distinct from the proceedings outlined in the RPAC and do not preclude the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP), Insurance Commission as well as the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) from imposing their own enforcement actions and sanctions versus violators.

Paris-based watchdog Financial Action Task Force (FATF) is set to decide in June next year whether the Philippines would be included in the group’s gray list.

The country was blacklisted by the FATF in 2000 for failing to address “dirty” money issues, paving the way for the enactment of RA 9160 or AMLA in 2001. It was subsequently removed from the blacklist in February 2005.

The Philippines narrowly avoided being placed on blacklist in 2012 as it criminalized terrorist financing and pursued quicker freezing of suspect accounts.

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