AMLC releases guidelines for POGOs, realtors, jewelers

Lawrence Agcaoili (The Philippine Star) - June 10, 2021 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) has issued the anti-money laundering and counterterrorism guidelines for Philippine offshore gaming operators (POGOs), real estate brokers, and dealers of jewelry and precious metals and stones.

Mel Georgie Racela, executive director of the AMLC Secretariat, said the financial intelligence unit issued Resolution 109 last May 26 approving the 2021 anti-money laundering or counterterrorism financing guidelines for designated non-financial businesses and professions (DNFBPs).

Through AMLC Regulatory Issuance 03, Racela said DNFBPs are covered persons regulated for anti-money laundering or counterterrorism financing to prevent criminals from exploiting them.

Aside from implementing appropriate anti-money laundering and counterterrorism financing risk management system, Racela said covered persons should also conform with high ethical standards and observe good corporate governance, know sufficiently their customers and clients to prevent transactions with criminal elements and suspicious individuals or entities, and cooperate with the AMLC for the effective implementation of the Anti Money Laundering Act and the Terrorism Financing Prevention and Suppression Act.

“While the AMLC is mindful of concerns to minimize unnecessary regulatory burdens and compliance costs for business, money laundering is a serious crime that threatens the competitiveness and openness of the Philippine economy,” Racela said.

The covered persons are required to establish, implement, monitor and maintain an effective money laundering and terrorism financing prevention program, as well as devise and implement relevant policies, procedures, processes and controls designed to prevent and detect illegal activities.

Likewise, they are required to undertake institutional risk assessment and at the same time develop sound risk management policies and practices.

Aside from active board and management oversight as well as the designation of compliance officers, Racela said the guidelines require covered persons to implement a money laundering and terrorism financing prevention program and establish internal controls and internal audit programs.

He said all DNFBPs are mandated to adopt a policy on customer due diligence as well as a monitoring and reporting system for covered transaction reports and suspicious transaction reports.

Racela said the additional covered persons are required to register with the AMLC via its online registration system within six months from the effectivity of the guidelines.

The AMLC will issue a provisional certificate of registration valid for six months and renewable for another six months to DNFBP upon online registration.

Under Republic Act 11521 or the amended Anti-Money Laundering Act of 2001 that took effect last Jan. 30, POGOs as well as real estate developers and brokers were classified as covered persons and are required to report covered and suspicious transactions to the AMLC.

The Philippines is in danger of being included in the gray list and facing sanctions from the Paris-based Financial Action Task Force (FATF) after it was placed under a 12-month observation period by the Asia Pacific Group on Money Laundering (APG) in October 2019. The country was given more time due to the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The country was blacklisted by the FATF in 2000 for failing to address “dirty” money issues, paving the way for the enactment of AMLA in 2001. It narrowly avoided being placed on blacklist in 2012 as it criminalized terrorist financing and pursued quicker freezing of suspect accounts after being subsequently removed from the blacklist in February 2005.

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