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The Philippines’ Anti-Money Laundering Counsel (AMLC) has stated that it is currently improving anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism financing measures protocols for casino junkets in reaction to recent remarks made by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF).
As reported by Inside Asian Gaming, FATF in October issued a statement urging the Philippines to swiftly implement plans to address key deficiencies in its AML controls, including those related to casino junkets. This followed the global AML watchdog earlier this year giving the Philippines an additional 12 months until January 2024 to address these deficiencies and be removed from its gray list.
In the response released by FATF last week, the AMLC stated, “steadfast commitment to bolstering the effectiveness of its Anti-Money Laundering, Counter Terrorism Financing and Counter-Proliferation Financing regime. Since June 2021, guided by high-level political commitment, the Philippines has actively collaborated with the FATF and the Asia/Pacific Group on Money Laundering (APG) to enhance the country’s AML/CTF measures. Executive Order No. 33, Series of 2023, and Memorandum Circular No. 37, issued by President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr., underscore this unwavering commitment and set the strategic direction for the country’s initiatives.”
AML/CTF controls to mitigate risks associated with casino junkets; improved risk-based oversight of Designated Non-Financial Businesses and Professions (DNFBP); improved mechanisms for law enforcement agencies to access Beneficial Ownership data, guaranteeing its timeliness and accuracy; stepped-up money laundering (ML) inquiries and prosecutions in accordance with identified risks; and stepped-up identification, examination, and investigation of TF cases.
AMLC highlighted, “despite the FATF’s note on the lapse of January 2023 deadlines, it is crucial to highlight that the nation’s pertinent agencies remain dedicated to swiftly and effectively implementing the outstanding action plans. The Philippines has made leaps in becoming a strong international partner in ML and TF investigations, building a strong BO information system in line with best practices, and establishing a robust DNFBP risk-based framework ahead of the global network. The relevant agencies’ commitment extends beyond timelines, focusing on establishing a robust and compliant AML/CTF framework in the Philippines.”
The AMLC also called on the private sector to “continue contributing towards efforts to exit the gray list. The Philippines values the guidance and recommendations from international bodies like the FATF and remains committed to continuous improvement and collaboration. By working hand in hand with our international partners and leveraging the collective strength of our national agencies, the Philippines continues its momentum in addressing its strategic deficiencies and further ensuring the resilience and integrity of its financial landscape.”
Due to its failure to remedy previously recognised weaknesses, the Philippines was placed on the FATF “gray list” of countries under heightened surveillance for deficiencies in AML and CTF procedures in June 2021.