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Business

AMLC freezes assets worth P8 billion

Lawrence Agcaoili - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines — The Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) has frozen P8 billion worth of assets, of which P3 billion has been forfeited, over the past 20 years.

AMLC Secretariat executive director Matthew David told the Senate committee on finance chaired by Sen. Sonny Angara that the financial intelligence unit has frozen approximately P8 billion worth of assets, including bank accounts, real estate properties and personal properties over the past 20 years.

The AMLC was created pursuant to Republic Act 9160 or the Anti-Money Laundering Act of 2001 (AMLA) to protect the integrity and confidentiality of bank accounts and to ensure that the Philippines will not be used as a money-laundering site for the proceeds of any unlawful activity.

Of the amount, David said AMLC has successfully forfeited about P3 billion, while at least P5 billion is still pending litigation under civil forfeiture.

The financial intelligence unit, he said, investigates suspicious transactions, covered transactions deemed suspicious, money laundering and terrorist financing activities, as well as violations of the AMLA and RA 10168 or the Terrorism Financing Prevention and Suppression Act.

From January to June, David reported to the Senate committee that the AMLC filed 21 cases for issuance of freeze order, application for bank inquiry and petition for civil forfeiture, as well as nine applications for bank inquiry.

David said the AMLC filed five petitions for issuance of freeze order with a total estimated value of P454.08 million from January to June, consisting of P401.97 million worth of bank accounts, 11 real properties worth P36.21 million and seven motor vehicles worth P7.63 million.

During the six-month period, he said the AMLC also filed seven petitions for civil forfeiture amounting to P66.12 million, $8,323 and 5,062 euros; real property worth P5.56 million and motor vehicles worth P1.43 million, among others.

David said illegal drug deals topped the list in terms of predicate offenses, with freeze orders amounting to P401.97 million and $6,999. Also frozen were real estate property worth P36.21 million, motor vehicles worth P7.73 million and other monetary assets worth P8.07 million.

Civil forfeiture proceedings linked to illegal drugs were also initiated, amounting to P65.4 million, including real properties worth P5.56 million and $4,752, and motor vehicles worth P1.43 million.

David said this was followed by terrorism financing, with P2.15 million under sanctions freeze orders as well as civil forfeiture covering P585,518; $3,571 and 5,062 euros.

Corruption cases also prompted civil forfeiture amounting to P138,836, as well as fraud with P330,702.

As an efficient supervisor, David said the financial intelligence unit ensures compliance of covered persons with the AMLA, as amended, and its rules and regulations by conducting regular and targeted onsite examination, as well as offsite supervision of covered persons.

For 2021 until the first half of 2022, he said the AMLC has undertaken enforcement actions, including reduced assessments on 25 banks, one casino, and one money services business operator amounting to P22.06 million.

The AMLC has also issued 85 warning letters, 32 compliance letters and 39 notarized compliance commitments.

According to David, the Philippines continues to make progress in its efforts to be removed from the gray list of global dirty money watchdog Financial Action Task Force (FATF) by strengthening anti-money laundering/combatting the financing of terrorism measures.

The FATF has given the Philippines until January next year to address the action item plans given by the International Cooperation Review Group.

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