EDITORIAL - Still on the gray list
(The Philippine Star) - October 23, 2012 - 12:00am

The Philippines has avoided being blacklisted as a money laundering haven, but has remained on a so-called gray list and the possibility of a blacklist is still there. A blacklist by the Paris-based Financial Action Task Force makes financial transactions in this country difficult, including the process of remitting the earnings of millions of overseas Filipino workers.

The Anti-Money Laundering Council had warned that the country could be blacklisted by the FATF if Congress failed to pass further amendments to the Anti-Money Laundering Act. But Palace officials noted that the FATF took cognizance of efforts undertaken by the AMLC and decided to wait for action from Congress, whose members said there wasn’t enough time to pass the amendments before the FATF meeting last week.

For those who fear that doing business in this country will become even more complicated with a blacklist, the failure to pass the amendments does not look like a question of time but plain lack of interest. The final amendment to the AMLA will further expand the number of predicate crimes covered by the law, including bribery and malversation of public funds, tax evasion, carjacking, human trafficking, illegal logging and other environmental crimes.

These fall under the FATF’s minimum category of offenses. All these crimes are rampant in this country and should have been included in the original AMLA by any government that is serious in its effort to stamp out corruption. Lawmakers’ stonewalling on inclusion of the offenses in the AMLA for a decade has fueled perceptions that they are engaged in self-preservation.

Lawmakers have tried to turn the issue into a matter of nationalism, saying the FATF should not tell a sovereign country what to do. But in the age of globalization, the Philippines must abide by international best practices, or live with the consequences. The FATF is not putting a gun to the Philippines’ head to force compliance. It is Congress that is holding the trigger, ready to inflict injury on the country by adding to the burdens of doing business here.

 

 

 

AMENDMENTS AMLA ANTI-MONEY LAUNDERING ACT ANTI-MONEY LAUNDERING COUNCIL BLACKLIST BUT PALACE CONGRESS COUNTRY FATF FINANCIAL ACTION TASK FORCE
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