Duterte signs law amending Anti-Money Laundering Act

Published January 29, 2021, 11:16 PM

by Genalyn Kabiling

A law strengthening the government’s regulations to ensure the country won’t become a money laundering haven has been signed by President Duterte.

President Rodrigo Duterte

Republic Act No. 11521 introduced amendments to RA 9160 or the Anti-Money Laundering Act of 2001 (AMLA) in a bid to intensify efforts to curb money laundering and terrorist financing activities.

“It is hereby the policy of the State to protect and preserve the integrity and confidentiality of bank accounts and to ensure that the Philippines will not be used as a money laundering site for the proceeds of any unlawful activity,” the law read.

“Consistent with its foreign policy, the State shall extend cooperation in transnational investigations and prosecutions of persons involved in money laundering activities wherever committed as well as in the implementation of targeted financial sanctions related to the financing of the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, terrorism,” it added.

The new law now covers real estate developers and brokers with single transactions involving an amount in excess of P7.5 million. Offshore gaming operators and their service producers are also included in the list of covered persons of the AMLA.

RA 11521 also set the threshold for tax crimes to excess of P25 million.

The law likewise strengthened the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) by allowing it to apply for the issuance of a search and seizure order as well as subpoena with any court in the conduct of its investigation of suspicious transactions.

It is also authorized to implement targeted financial sanctions in relations to proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and its financing as well as preserve, manage or dispose assets pursuant to a freeze order, asset preservation order or judgment of forfeiture.

The law also introduced a section on information security and confidentiality. “The AMLC and its Secretariat shall securely protect information received or processed and shall not reveal, in any manner, any information known to them by reason of their office. This prohibition shall apply even after their separation from the AMLC,” the law read. 

Those who breach information security and confidentiality may have a jail term from three to eight years and a fine ranging P500,000 to P1 million.

If the offender is a public official, the person will suffer the penalty of perpetual or temporary disqualification from public office as the case may be in addition to the imprisonment and payment of fine.

The law, signed by the President on Jan. 29, takes effect immediately after publication in the Official Gazette or in a newspaper.