AMLC zooms in on jewelers, fund managers, lawyers, accountants

MANILA, Philippines – Jewelry dealers, fund managers, lawyers, and accountants are now being strictly monitored by the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC), as it firms up its battle against money laundering and terrorist financing.

The AMLC Secretariat issued Resolution No. 59 adopting the Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorism Financing (AML/CTF) guidelines for Designated Non-Financial Businesses and Professions (DNFBPs). (READ: AMLC adopts stricter controls against money laundering)

AMLC Executive Director Mel Georgie Racela said this would make the Philippines "technically compliant" with international standards.

This comes after the Asia/Pacific Group on Money Laundering (APG) cited the Philippines' lack of a regulatory framework for DNFBPs in its last mutual evaluation in 2008.

Racela said the guidelines were based on Republic Act No. 10365, which includes under "covered persons" those who deal with precious stones and metals; those who deliver fund or securities management services for other persons; and persons and entities who provide services to organize, create, and manage companies and arrangements under the amended Anti-Money Laundering Act (AMLA).

"Inclusion of DNFBPs as covered persons is something new to us. Businesses and professions that, until now, have played a marginal role in our fight against money laundering and terrorism financing, will find themselves heavily involved in it. The AMLC itself had very little contact with these DNFBPs prior to 2018," the AMLC executive director said.

"It will probably take time for the newly-adopted measures to take root. But we have one foot through the door, and this is a remarkable achievement," he added.

Racela said DNFBPs have acknowledged they could be used to commit money laundering and terrorism financing. (READ: Fresh AMLA amendments include casinos, real estate, junket ops)

Lawyers and accountants, who provide the services enumerated in the amended AMLA, are required to report covered and suspicious transactions to the AMLC.

"Certainly, professional secrecy cannot be used as a cloak to commit crime. I see that in the foreseeable future, the Philippines will come to embrace international AML/CTF standards more and more," Racela said.

DNFBPs need to register and submit deeds of undertaking to comply with the provisions of the AMLA.

They are also required to attend regular AML/CTF trainings, as stated under Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) Circular No. 942.

Back in July 2017, President Rodrigo Duterte signed Republic Act No. 10927, placing casinos under the AMLA.

In 2013, the Philippines was removed from the "gray list" with the passage of Republic Act No. 10365, introducing significant reforms to combat money laundering. –