Philippines tightens money laundering laws to include casinos

Phil

PhilippinesAML
ippine legislators have today approved an amendment to existing anti-money laundering legislation which would see casinos included in the list of corporate entities covered by the country's Anti-Money Laundering Act.

The amendment passed its third and final reading in both the House of Representatives and Senate despite fierce lobbying by representatives from the Philippine gambling industry against the proposed changes.

It follows revelations that hackers had funnelled over $81m in stolen Bangladeshi bank account funds through the Philippine casino industry in February 2016. To date, Bangladeshi banking authorities have only been able to retrieve a fifth of the stolen funds.

Authorities attempting to retrieve the monies were hindered by the absence of the casino industry from existing anti-money laundering legislation, prompting calls for its amendment by both government and the Asia Pacific Group on Money Laundering (APG).

The APG, an international group which has over 41 member countries, had imposed a deadline of June 2017 for the Philippines to strengthen its existing legislation and comply with global anti-money laundering standards.

Senator Francis Escudero, the main proponent of the bill told Reuters that internet and ship-based casinos were also covered under the amended version to ensure that the country will not be "used as a money laundering site for the proceeds of any unlawful activity".

Under the amended legislation, any casino transactions worth 5 million pesos ($100,500) or more, including accumulated bets, are required to be reported to the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC).

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte will sign the amendment into law in June.

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