The Senate Blue Ribbon committee will attempt to fix loopholes in the Anti-Money Laundering Act (AMLA) on Tuesday when is conducts a public hearing on the alleged $81 million cross-border money-laundering and electronic fraud scheme at Philippine banks and casinos.
This on the heels of reelectionist Senator Teofisto “TG” Guingona III, chairperson of the Blue Ribbon committee, sending summons out to resource individuals from the banking sector, including Amado M. Tetangco Jr, who is the Governor of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP), as well as Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) chairman.
The casino sector will be investigated by Cristino L. Naguiat Jr., chairman and chief executive officer (CEO) of the state-owned Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PACGOR). An invitation was also sent to Teresita J.Herbosa, Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to attend the public hearing, which is being held at the Jose P. Laurel room at the Senate, according to the Manilla Bulletin.
Reelectionist and Senate President Franklin M. Drilon said that the inclusion of casinos in the AMLA’s coverage is one of the major challenges that await the next president. Drilon noted that among the recommendations of the Paris-based Financial Action Task Force (FATF) included in the AMLA coverage were various transactions such as casinos, money changers, and foreign exchange companies so that the country’s financial system could be aligned with international standards, as well as avert the consequences of the blacklisting by the FATF.
Drilion also said the AMLA law was amended by Congress as compliance to the FATF to expand its coverage with the exception of casinos because of conflicting versions between the House of Representatives and Senate. Casinos were included in the AMLA coverage in the Senate version, but not in the House version.
Former Sen. Panfilo M. Lacson, a leading contender in the May senatorial race, said if elected one of his main priorities would be tightening the provisions of the AMLA. Lacson, one of the AMLA’s authors, said he would introduce amendments making it necessary for the Philippines to fully comply with the requirements and standards of the FATF. He also said that following the recent $81 million scandal, the alleged practice of money laundering through casinos would be looked into.