Freeman Cebu Business

BSP-Cebu exec: Secrecy law is meant to keep trust

Carlo S. Lorenciana - The Freeman

CEBU, Philippines - As long as the Bank Secrecy Law is there, it should be strictly implemented to maintain depositors’ trust.

This according to Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas-Cebu Director Leonides Sumbi when asked for comments on the allegation of Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV that presidential candidate Rodrigo Duterte kept millions of pesos in a secret bank account with the Bank of the Philippine Islands.

 However, Sumbi pointed out the country’s bank secrecy law is very “tight”.

 In fact, she said there had been calls to amend the law before but did not succeed.

 The law prohibits an inquiry into any bank records except if there is an expressed permission from the depositor, in cases of impeachment, upon order of a competent court in cases of bribery or dereliction of duty of public officials, or cases where the money deposited is the subject matter of the litigation.

 Previously, Sumbi said in an interview that the law should have additional provisions that would give authorities more options to look into bank accounts being investigated.

 Banks are prohibited by the bank secrecy law to disclose financial records of their clients.

 Sought for comment yesterday, Cebu Bankers Club President Maximo Eleccion said the banking sector is aware of its responsibility and that bankers are conscious of their liability should they violate the bank secrecy law.

 “As for BPI, our internal investigation reveals that there has been no breach of client confidentiality,” said Eleccion, who works for BPI as relationship manager, referring to the Duterte bank account controversy.

 “BPI continues to have one of the most highly regarded data protection practices in the industry and we are committed to protecting client information and preserving the trust bestowed on us by our clients all these years,” he said.

 Republic Act 1405 or the Bank Secrecy Law, enacted on September 9, 1955, was create to encourage people "to deposit their money in banking institutions and to discourage private hoarding so that the same may be properly utilized by banks in authorized loans to assist in the economic development of the country."

 But calls were previously raised to ease or lift such law as it is one of the most restrictive in the world. (FREEMAN)

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