Photo from the Embassy of the People's Republic of Bangladesh in Manila
MANILA, Philippines – An official from the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) has been tasked to temporarily oversee the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) after its former executive director Julia Bacay-Abad stepped down on January 31.
Mel Georgie Racela was designated officer-in-charge of the AMLC Secretariat following Bacay's resignation. Bacay spent 4 years in the council.
The change in leadership in the Philippines' financial intelligence unit came after President Rodrigo Duterte's constant allegations against AMLC officials.
Prior to being named AMLC OIC, Racela was the Deputy Director for Special Projects and Reports from the Supervisory and Examinations Sector of the BSP.
His new post in the AMLC is not Racela's first experience probing money laundering as he previously headed the BSP's anti-money laundering specialist group. In 2002, he also joined the office of the AMLC Secretariat where he was "primarily tasked to conduct financial investigations and draft policies and procedures."
In 2005, Racela became part of the evaluation team of the Asia Pacific Group on Money Laundering (APGML) which primarily studies the effectiveness of the AML framework of various countries.
An accountant-lawyer, Racela obtained his law degree from San Beda College and his undergraduate degree from De La Salle University. He also holds a Masters of Law in International Legal Studies from Georgetown University Law Center.
As OIC, Racela will hold the position only until July 31, 2017.
Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II, according to a report by the Manila Times, wants to include Racela – his fellow Bedan lawyer – in the list of individuals to be considered to head AMLC for one full term of 5 years.
Created through Republic Act 9160 or the Anti-Money Laundering Act, the AMLC is responsible for implementing both the AMLA and Republic Act 10168 or the Terrorism Financing Prevention and Suppression Act. (READ: FAST FACTS: The Anti-Money Laundering Council)
Because one of the council's main responsibilities is to penalize those who attempt to conceal "the illegal nature of proceeds from unlawful activities," AMLC also possesses investigative and prosecutorial powers.
In carrying out their main function, the council can require institutions like banks, insurance companies, and securities dealers to submit "covered or suspicious transaction reports." – Rappler.com
Jodesz Gavilan is a writer and researcher for Rappler and its investigative arm, Newsbreak. She covers human rights and also hosts the weekly podcast Newsbreak: Beyond the Stories. She joined Rappler in 2014 after obtaining her journalism degree from the University of the Philippines.