Casinos now covered by anti-money laundering law

CASINOS COVERED. A dealer plays card with visitors during a two-day exhibit on the gaming industry in Manila, 22 March 2007. Photo by Romeo Gacad/Agence France-Presse

CASINOS COVERED. A dealer plays card with visitors during a two-day exhibit on the gaming industry in Manila, 22 March 2007.

Photo by Romeo Gacad/Agence France-Presse

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – President Rodrigo Duterte signed into law Republic Act No 10927, which puts casinos under the Anti-Money Laundering Act (AMLA) of 2001.

The law, signed by Duterte on Friday, July 14, says that casinos, "including internet or ship-based" ones, are now regarded as covered persons under AMLA.

Republic Act No 10927 amends the orginal AMLA, Republic Act No 9160.

Casino cash transactions of more than P5 million or its equivalent in other currencies are now considered a transaction covered by the law and must thus be reported to the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC).

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In the amended law, the Anti-Money Laundering Council still has to wait for the Court of Appeals to issue a freeze order if they suspect a monetary instrument or property is related to an unlawful activity.

The freeze order will be effective immediately and will last 20 days.

The amendment signed by Duterte are much weaker compared to amendments proposed by Senator Francis Escudero.

In the lawmaker's committee report filed in November 2016, he proposed putting not just casinos but also real estate developers, money transfer firms, junket operators, and dealers of high-value item goods under AMLC's watch.

Under the proposed amendments, these entities will need to report cash transactions that exceed P500,000.

They also allow AMLC to issue an ex parte freeze order, which will be effective immediately and will not exceed 30 days. 

Nevertheless, Escudero thanked Duterte for signing the amendments before the annual Asia/Pacific Group on Money Laundering (APC) Meeting and Forum on Technical Assistance taking place on July 21.

“I would like to thank the President for signing this into law right in time for the APG meeting. Now that we have already complied with the guidelines, we are hopeful that the country will no longer be put in the blacklist,” Escudero said in a July 19 statement.

The urgency of putting more teeth into the AMLA was highlighted in the fallout of the $81-million Bangladesh Bank heist – the biggest money-laundering case in Philippine history. – Rappler.com

Pia Ranada

Pia Ranada covers the Office of the President and Bangsamoro regional issues for Rappler. While helping out with desk duties, she also watches the environment sector and the local government of Quezon City. For tips or story suggestions, you can reach her at pia.ranada@rappler.com.

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