Include casinos, art in anti-money laundering law – SEC chief

MANILA, Philippines – Securities and Exchange Commission Chairperson Teresita Herbosa called on Congress to further strengthen the country's Anti-Money Laundering Act, with the Philippines' involvement in the $100M Bangladesh Bank heist serving as "good stimulus" for the move.

Herbosa said in an interview on the sidelines of a regional meeting on Monday, March 14, that there is a need to expand the coverage of the reporting entities and ensure that the Anti-Money Laundering Council has the necessary powers to conduct investigation on perpetrators.

Herbosa said AMLC will now push for the inclusion of casinos and art in the coverage of AMLA.

"We need to strengthen the law. Money laundering can only be stopped if everyone in the world cooperates," Herbosa, who also co-chairs AMLC, told reporters.

"It's a global effort to eradicate money laundering. We have to catch up with people doing that activity and while we are doing that we need to strengthen the laws of each country to comfort to best practices," she added.

'Good stimulus'

She said the recent incident should be a "good stimulus" to prompt legislators to strengthen the AMLA, like adding certain groups or individuals, such as casinos, as covered institutions.

"I'm sure they'll be considered for the next round of amendments. That's (recent reports on money laundering) a very good stimulus for everyone to seriously consider who should, or should not be considered," Herbosa said.

About $100 million in funds were illegally taken out of Bangladesh Bank's account with the Federal Reserve Bank of New York in early February using an interbank messaging system known as SWIFT. The laundered money was moved via transfer requests, with about $81 million ending up in bank accounts in the Philippines and the remaining going to an account in Sri Lanka.