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On Sunday, the Court of Appeals (CA) issued its rule of process for assessing the deposit or investment accounts in financial infrastructures for any illegal activity like money laundering. The then-Chief Justice, Diosdado M. Peralta approved the guidelines on March 23. The Republic Act (RA) No. 9160 or the Anti-Money Laundering Act of 2001 (after amendments) will be implemented and will be in effect by May 31.
The SC resolution on the rule of procedure, “these guidelines will complement the existing…rule of procedure in cases of civil forfeiture, asset preservation, and freezing of monetary instrument, property, or proceeds representing, involving, or relating to an unlawful activity or money laundering offense under RA 9160, as amended.”
This is applicable on banking and non-banking financial institutions along with their affiliates and subsidiaries.
As per the rule of procedure, an application can be filed by the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) with the Office of Solicitor General (OSG) to inquire into a specific investment or deposit account. This, however, is only applicable “when it has been established that there is probable cause that (such accounts) are related to an unlawful activity or a money laundering offense under RA 9160.”
After this application, the CA will make a decision within 24 hours. In case of approval, the inquiry order from the Council of Appeals (CA) will indicate whether the particular deposit or investment account must be evaluated or not. This evaluation will also include the name of account owners and all associated holders.
On the other hand, this court order will also direct the concerned company to provide AMLC or its authorised personnel with full access to all information, documents, and objects relating to the subject deposit or investment account within a specific period of time.
Lastly, the order for inquiry will direct the OSG to inform the court of civil forfeiture proceedings with reference to the case within five days from its filing.
The CA revealed that this inquiry order will be valid for 120 days and the duration can be extended under certain circumstances for 120 more days.
The amended law allows the AMLC to impose sanctions on financial institutions such as asset freezing with reference to terror financing. This also covers real estate brokers and developers along with offshore gaming operators.