The House of Representatives on Wednesday ratified the bicameral conference committee report on a bill strengthening the country’s anti-money laundering law.
The chamber approved the final reconciled version of the measure, which introduces amendments to Republic Act 9160, or the Anti-Money Laundering Act of 2001, ahead of the February 2021 deadline set by the Paris-based global dirty money watchdog Financial Action Task Force (FATF).
The final version of the AMLA amendments will be sent immediately to President Rodrigo Duterte for his signature.
The bill seeks to include tax crime as a predicate offense to money laundering and set a threshold to an excess of P25 million.
It shall also require the submission of reports on all real estate transactions involving an excess of P7.5 million to the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC).
The final version of the bill retained the House provision granting the AMLC the power to investigate, issue subpoenas and conduct search and seizure.
It will now include Philippine offshore gaming operators (POGOs) and their service providers as among the covered entities and persons.
House Speaker Lord Allan Velasco said the proposed law would help the Philippines avoid being included in the gray list of FATF-International Cooperation Review Group.
“We are glad that the bill is now just one step away from becoming a law and we are poised to beat the deadline for us to come up with a much stronger legislation against money laundering so we can avoid being placed on the FATF gray list,” Velasco said.
Inclusion in FATF’s gray list will result in additional layers of scrutiny from regulators and financial institutions, delayed processing of transactions, and blocking the country’s road to an “A” credit rating.
“The Philippines cannot afford to be in that list as it would further hurt the economy already struggling from the devastating effects of the Covid-19 pandemic,” he said.
The Philippines was gray-listed by the FATF in 2000 for failing to address “dirty” money issues, paving the way for the enactment of RA 9160 in 2001. It was subsequently removed from the list in February 2005. SOVEREIGNPH