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Phl sees positive action from FATF

Aurea Calica - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - The Philippines expects positive action from the Paris-based Financial Action Task Force (FATF) after President Aquino signed the third and last batch of amendments that the watchdog had required the country to pass to avoid blacklisting.

Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said Republic Act No. 10365, or “An Act Further Strengthening the Anti-Money Laundering Act of 2001,” makes the country compliant with the United Nations Convention Against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs, UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and the UN Political Declaration and Action Plan against Money Laundering.

The new law, which expanded covered institutions and predicate crimes to money laundering, was passed before the FATF’s general assembly in Paris, France on Feb. 20 to 22.

During the meeting, Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) officials will try to convince FATF to remove the country from the grey list of nations non-compliant to global anti-money laundering standards.

Getting blacklisted means higher costs and delays in remitting money and in other financial transactions.

“We’re very hopeful that, with the passage of this particular law, the FATF will see that we are really serious about this commitment to fight money laundering,” Valte said over radio dzRB.

“There is a general assembly that is scheduled and usually after the FATF plenary, they come up with a review and report on the compliance of different countries,” she said.

Valte said the government had passed RA 10168 to prevent financing of terrorism and RA 10167 or An Act Strengthening the Anti-Money Laundering Act of 2001 allowing the AMLC to look into bank accounts of suspected money launderers without notifying them.

Earlier, Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) assistant governor Vicente Aquino said it would be “very difficult to predict what will happen” during the FATF meetings.

But he said he is “hopeful” that FATF will recognize the Philippines’ efforts despite some shortcomings.

Aquino, who until recently served as AMLC executive director, noted that provisions making tax evasion a predicate crime and putting casinos under AMLC scrutiny were left out in the approved bill.

“This is the best measure we can get at the moment. I hope this best will be enough,” he said.

Valte said the government would have to see first the evaluation of the country’s laws against money laundering and “then we’ll move forward from there.”

“Perhaps, it will be our legislators who will be in a better position to explain why some entities were not included among covered institutions,” she said.

ABIGAIL VALTE AN ACT FURTHER STRENGTHENING THE ANTI-MONEY LAUNDERING ACT AN ACT STRENGTHENING THE ANTI-MONEY LAUNDERING ACT ANTI-MONEY LAUNDERING COUNCIL BANGKO SENTRAL FATF FINANCIAL ACTION TASK FORCE LAUNDERING MONEY VALTE
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