Philippine presidential candidate Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago will seek to include casinos in the country's Anti-Money Laundering Act (AMLA) if elected come 9 May.
“If the casino sector remains outside of the coverage of AMLA, the Philippines risks becoming the world’s money laundering capital,” she said.
Under the AMLA, casinos would be required to report questionable deals to the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC).
The AMLC was one of various bodies to launch investigations into a recent case of suspected money laundering which reportedly saw China-based computer hackers steal $81m from a Bangladeshi bank, with the funds then introduced into the Filipino banking system, sold to a black market foreign exchange broker, transferred to at least three large local casinos and then sold back to the broker and moved overseas.
Santiago believes the AMLA amendment is necessary for the country to avoid being blacklisted by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF).
She stressed that the repercussions of being blacklisted would lead to strict cross-border measures and higher costs for financial transactions.
In 2012, Congress sought to cover casinos under the AMLA, but the proposed measure was opposed by regulator the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp, who were concerned that the proposition would deter investors.