De Lima seeks inquiry into anti-money laundering law compliance

MANILA, Philippines – Senator Leila de Lima filed a Senate resolution seeking to review the Office of the Ombudsman and the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC)’s compliance with the 2001 Anti-Money Laundering Act.

De Lima filed Senate Resolution No. 666 after the Ombudsman terminated its investigation into President Rodrigo Duterte’s alleged ill-gotten wealth.

“Duterte should never be exempted from investigation and accountability. Thus, the Senate leadership should ensure that the Ombudsman and the AMLC complied with the Anti-Money Laundering Act and the Ombudsman Act,” De Lima said.

De Lima said the Ombudsman Act of 1989 states that the agency shall “investigate and initiate the proper action for the recovery” of unexplained wealth amassed after February 25, 1986, as well as prosecute the parties involved.

She also said that AMLA, as amended, mandates the office “to cause the filing of complaints with the Department of Justice or the Ombudsman for the prosecution of money laundering offenses.”

“In short, it is expected that the ALMC and the Office of the Ombudsman would work hand in hand to seriously uncover the truth about the alleged ill-gotten wealth of any public officials, much less if it is the President of the Republic,” De Lima said.

De Lima also urged the Senate leadership to look into drafting bills that would require investigation of such cases, and impose penalties for obstruction of probes into public officials’ unexplained wealth.

On November 29, 2017, the Ombudsman closed its investigation into the alleged bank transactions of the President and his daughter, Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio, due to supposed lack of evidence, after the AMLC “declined to provide a report or confirmation on the requested vital data.”

Overall Deputy Ombudsman Arthur Carandang had previously revealed that they have Duterte's bank records amounting to over ₱1 billion.

This irked Malacañang, which later ordered the suspension of Carandang for allegedly divulging detailed information on the investigation. Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales, however, said she would not follow the order. –

Camille Elemia

Camille Elemia is a multimedia reporter focusing on media, technology, and disinformation.