Philippines legislators approve new anti-money laundering rules
In the face of stiff lobbying from the gambling industry, federal legislators in the Philippines approved new rules earlier this week aimed at tightening anti-money laundering regulations for land-based casinos.
According to a report from the Reuters news service, the move follows last year’s heist of the state-run Bangladesh Bank that saw around $81 million illicitly transferred from its account at the Federal Reserve Bank Of New York to the Rizal Commercial Banking Corporation electronically before disappearing via at least two Manila casinos.
The news service reported that separate bills passed by the House Of Representatives and Senate on Tuesday will amend the existing Anti-Money Laundering Act Of 2001 with a provision that will see casinos required to report any transaction including accumulated wagers worth over $100,500 to the nation’s anti-money laundering agency.
“We should move to be more transparent by amending the law to protect our casinos from money laundering by crime syndicates,” Josephine Sato, a member of the House Of Representatives and a supporter of the new legislation, told Reuters.
Senator Francis Escudero, the main proponent of the upper house bill, told the news service that online and ship-based casinos will also be covered by the new legislation once it is signed into law later this month by President Rodrigo Duterte to ensure that the Philippines will not be “used as a money laundering site for the proceeds of any unlawful activity”.
Reuters reported that both pieces of legislation were ratified on the second to last day of the regular Congressional session and beat a June 1 deadline for the Philippines to strengthen its laws that had been set by the Asia/Pacific Group On Money Laundering, which is an inter-governmental organization with 41 member nations including the United States, Australia, Singapore, and Malaysia.