FATF wants casinos to set $3,000 threshold for players
Iris Gonzales (The Philippine Star) - March 20, 2016 - 10:00am

MANILA, Philippines – The Paris-based Financial Action Task Force (FATF), the global watchdog against money laundering, wants casinos around the globe to set a $3,000 (P140,000) threshold for players as it continues to push for the inclusion of the casino sector in the coverage of the Philippines’ Anti-Money Laundering Law. 

The Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (Pagcor), the state-owned gaming regulator, said it is amenable to the inclusion of casinos in the coverage of the law.

“We are very open to be part of AMLA (Anti-Money Laundering Act of 2001). We have already told Congress that we are willing to be covered by AMLA,” Pagcor chairman Cristino Naguiat said.

In its latest Anti-Money Laundering and Counter Terrorist Financing manual, the FATF said casinos should identify and verify the identity of customers who engage in financial transactions equal to or above $3,000.

The Paris-based body will have its next assessment on the Philippines and Bangladesh to look into how the two countries have effectively implemented anti-money laundering measures, particularly in the light of the $81-million money laundering scandal.

In the case of the Philippines, the FATF expects it to push for the inclusion of the casino sector in its coverage of its Anti-Money Laundering Law, an official said.

FATF communications management advisor Alexandra Wijmenga-Daniel said the FATF-style Regional Body Asia Pacific Group (APG), of which the Philippines and Bangladesh are members, has yet to schedule the dates for the next assessment.

“However, each assessment will look for evidence to demonstrate how effectively the country has used its Anti-Money Laundering/Counter Terrorist Financing (AML/CTF) measures to prevent, detect and prosecute cases of money laundering and terrorist financing,” Daniel said. 

The APG is a group that ensures the adoption, implementation and enforcement of internationally accepted anti-money laundering and counter-terrorist financing standards as set out in the FATF.

In the 2013 assessment of the FATF, Daniel said the Paris-based body already raised concerns on the Philippines’ exclusion of the casino sector in its coverage of the anti-money laundering measures even as it noted the country’s progress in improving its Anti-Money Laundering Law.

“In June 2013, the FATF determined that the Philippines had made significant progress in improving its AML/CFT regime and noted that the Philippines had established the legal and regulatory framework to meet its commitments in its FATF Action Plan but raised concerns regarding the absence of AML/CFT measures for the casino sector,” Daniel said.

“At that time, the FATF made a statement that it expected the Philippines to work with the APG to regulate the casino sector for AML/CFT purposes and make it subject to AML/CFT requirements,” she added.

In its latest manual against money laundering updated in October 2015, the FATF said casinos should identify and verify the identity of customers, when their customers engage in financial transactions equal to or above $3,000.

“Countries must require casinos to ensure that they are able to link customer due diligence information for a particular customer to the transactions that the customer conducts in the casino,” FATF said.

At the minimum, casinos should be licensed, it also said.

The Philippines and Bangladesh are investigating the laundering of some $81 million stolen by suspected Chinese hackers from the Bank of Bangladesh.

The $81 million stolen from the Bangladesh Bank allegedly entered the Philippines via the Jupiter, Makati branch of Rizal Commercial Banking Corp. (RCBC) through accounts of several individuals, some of them allegedly under fictitious names.

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