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Phl evades FATF blacklist

(The Philippine Star) - February 24, 2013 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - The Philippines has dodged the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) blacklist for the third time, after the international money-laundering watchdog recognized the country’s efforts and scheduled an on-site visit to confirm reforms.

“The Philippines has made significant progress to improve its AML/CFT (anti-money laundering/ financing terrorists) regime and has largely addressed its action plan,” FATF said in a statement posted on its website.

The resolution, issued after the two-day FATF Plenary in France, noted amendments made to the Anti-Money Laundering Act (AMLA) to include more predicate crimes and financial institutions that could be scrutinized.

It also welcomed the passage of a law criminalizing terrorist financing activities as well as the enhancement of “financial transparency.”

The group, however, expressed concern that casinos continued to be “unregulated,” urging the Philippines to “promptly and effectively address this outstanding deficiency.”

Legislators left out casinos in a law that expanded covered institutions that should report to authorities.

“FATF will conduct an on-site visit to confirm that the process of implementing the required reforms and actions is underway to address deficiencies previously identified by the FATF,” according to the statement.

Government officials could not be reached for comment.

This was the third time the Philippines avoided being blacklisted, which could have meant higher financial transaction costs and stringent cross-border measures for money transactions that could affect remittances.

The country stays on the “grey list” where FATF noted a “high-level political commitment” from local authorities to address what it called are “deficiencies” in order to make the fight against money laundering more effective.

In October, FATF kept the country in the grey list despite passage of Republic Act 10167 that effectively criminalized terrorist financing activities. This followed the upgrade from dark grey list June of last year.

Last week, President Aquino signed into law Republic Act 10168, the last pending amendment being asked by FATF, but officials have said that is not a guarantee the Philippines will not be blacklisted or will be removed from the watchlist.

“We have already met majority of the requirements. But nothing is certain. We really hope for the best,” Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) officer-in-charge Julia Bacay-Abad said last week.

AMLC is chaired by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, with the Securities and Exchange Commission and Insurance Commission as members.

 

ANTI-MONEY LAUNDERING ACT ANTI-MONEY LAUNDERING COUNCIL BANGKO SENTRAL FATF FINANCIAL ACTION TASK FORCE IN OCTOBER JULIA BACAY-ABAD PRESIDENT AQUINO REPUBLIC ACT SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION AND INSURANCE COMMISSION
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