Senate ratifies bicam report on Anti-Money Laundering Act

Published January 21, 2021, 10:12 AM

by Vanne Elaine Terrazola

The Senate ratified on Wednesday, January 20, the final version of the bill strengthening the Anti-Money Laundering Act (AMLA).


During their plenary session, Senator Grace Poe formally reported to her colleagues the bicameral conference committee report which consolidates the Senate and the House of Representatives’ proposals in amending the AMLA.

“There were many conflicting provisions between the Senate Bill No. 1945 and House Bill No. 7904, but through the hardwork and perseverance of our colleagues…we were able to reconcile these differences,” Poe said in her speech before the Upper Chamber ratified the report.

Among others, Poe said senators and congressmen “readily accepted” the Senate’s provision to include transactions of offshore gaming operators (POGOs) and service providers exceeding P500,000 under the AMLA’s coverage.

She said the provision will make sure that “POGOs and service providers are regulated and are not made as avenues for nefarious activity in the country.”

The bicam, on the other hand, adopted the House’s proposal to also cover real estate brokers and developers involved in single cash transactions involving an amount in excess of P7.5 million.

The lawmakers also agreed to retain the current P500,000 threshold in the law on the reportorial mandate of the Land Registration Authority (LRA) on real estate transactions.

Meanwhile, Poe said the bicam agreed that the tax crime covered by the amendments shall be limited only to tax evasion as provided under the National Internal Revenue Code as amended. The Senate’s proposed threshold of P25 million for tax violations was accepted by the House members.

On the proposed powers from the Anti-Money Laundering Council, Poe said the Senate and House contingents agreed on give the body “additional but limited investigative powers” such as the power to apply for the issuance of a search and seizure warrant before any competent court; and the power to apply for the issuance of subpoena with any competent court.

“This is in adherence to the key recommendation of the FATF/APG while at the same time still maintaining the integrity of the Constitution and our laws,” she explained.

Likewise, the AMLC would be granted the authority to preserve, manage or dispose assets pursuant to a freeze order, preservation order or judgment of forfeiture.

The House also accepted the Senate’s proposed amendment to expand the “unlawful activities” under the AMLA in relation to the proliferation-financing of weapons of mass destruction.