Dirty money watch­dog tight­ens rules

Business World - - Front Page - Melissa Luz T. Lopez

THE ANTI-MONEY LAUN­DER­ING Coun­cil (AMLC) is step­ping up its watch on dirty money by re­quir­ing all re­port­ing firms to iden­tify and dis­close ul­ti­mate own­ers of ac­counts or prod­ucts.

The fi­nan­cial watch­dog re­leased new rules on ben­e­fi­cial own­er­ship last week, or­der­ing all banks, in­sur­ance com­pa­nies and other cov­ered in­sti­tu­tions to re­port the iden­ti­ties of peo­ple who ac­tu­ally own or con­trol ac­counts and fi­nan­cial trans­ac­tions which they process.

“These stan­dards re­quire banks, other fi­nan­cial in­sti­tu­tions and cer­tain pro­fes­sions to iden­tify not only the cus­tomer with whom they trans­act, but also the ben­e­fi­cial own­ers,” the AMLC said in a state­ment pub­lished on its Web site.

“Cov­ered per­sons must con­duct [sic] the risks posed by the cus­tomer and the ben­e­fi­cial own­ers. If they pose a high risk for money laun­der­ing or ter­ror­ism fi­nanc­ing, val­i­da­tion of in­for­ma­tion must be per­formed by the cov­ered per­son.”

This stems from pre­vi­ous cases wherein the watch­dog dis­cov­ered that dummy ac­counts and even non-govern­ment or­ga­ni­za­tions (NGOs) are used to “hide iden­ti­ties” and “blur­ring the il­le­gal source of the funds.”

“Money laun­der­ers and ter­ror­ists rou­tinely use the cloak of anonymity to pre­vent the AMLC and law en­force­ment agen­cies from track­ing them down. In the case of the AMLC, they also seek to avoid freez­ing and for­fei­ture of their as­sets ob­tained through crim­i­nal ac­tiv­i­ties,” the fi­nan­cial in­tel­li­gence unit also said.

High-pro­file cases that are said to in­volve money laun­der­ing in­clude the P10-bil­lion pork bar­rel scam wherein sev­eral law­mak­ers re­port­edly chan­neled pub­lic

funds to ghost liveli­hood projects from bo­gus NGOs con­trolled by busi­ness­woman Janet Lim-Napoles, who is cur­rently de­tained for mul­ti­ple plun­der and graft raps.

The new rules were signed on Nov. 23 and took ef­fect on Nov. 27.

Ear­lier this year, the AMLC is­sued an ad­vi­sory to re­port­ing firms against dummy or “lend­out” ac­counts, say­ing all re­port­ing par­ties should es­tab­lish and record “the true and full iden­tity” of ac­count hold­ers as well as trans­ac­tors — or those who carry out fund trans­fers, de­posits and with­drawals for every ac­count.

Und­edr the law, banks, in­sur­ance firms, casino op­er­a­tors and other cov­ered en­ti­ties need to re­port cov­ered trans­ac­tions — worth at least P500,000 — as well as sus­pi­cious trans­ac­tions to the AMLC within 10 work­ing days from oc­cur­rence.

These re­ports as leads in pur­su­ing po­ten­tial money laun­der­ing cases and pred­i­cate crimes.

Money laun­der­ing threat in the Philip­pines re­mained “high” in 2015 and 2016, ac­cord­ing to the sec­ond na­tional risk as­sess­ment re­port pub­lished by the AMLC in De­cem­ber last year.

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