By LEE C. CHIPONGIAN
Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) Governor Benjamin E. Diokno said there is a need for rigid compliance to the anti-money laundering rules for the detection of unusual activities and the reporting of suspicious transactions as technology allows more access to gambling.
“With Internet-based casinos, casino junket operations, and reduced transparency of high-rollers, there is much vulnerability in identifying sources and movement of funds,” Diokno said during the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) and Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (Pagcor) memorandum of agreement (MOA) signing.
“This calls for strict enforcement of and compliance to anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism financing policies — urging the full cooperation of covered persons during the conduct of examinations — especially with the rise of Philippine offshore gaming operators (POGOs),” he stressed.
Diokno said the BSP as lead agency of the AMLC, will continue to ensure that the country will not become a haven for money laundering and terrorism financing.
The AMLC is the Philippines’ hybrid financial intelligence unit and in-charge of detecting and investigating suspicious transaction reports and to come after erring covered persons for the filing of cases and forfeiture proceedings.
Diokno reiterated that collaboration between AMLC and Pagcor is important and “crucial” to stop the “abuse of the financial system domestically and globally.” He cited a National Risk Assessment comment that said casinos as “highly vulnerable.” Pagcor operates nine casino branches and 32 satellite casinos.
“Similar to banks and other financial institutions, casinos undertake high-volume and high-speed financial activities but in the gaming context. Being generally large cash-based businesses, casinos are competitive in its growth and susceptible to criminal activity,” Diokno said.
The MOA is designed for closer cooperation, he added. “(Signing) a MOA between both agencies makes for a more systematic sharing of information. This MOA then strengthens the feedback mechanism between our agencies to enhance our cooperation.”
The MOA basically, will foster an exchange of studies, research, and information on current, new, and emerging trends and typologies in money laundering and terrorism financing – “and to undertake capacity-building measures to efficiently address money laundering, terrorism financing, and unlawful activities in the country,” according to Diokno.