Newly-signed law strengthening Anti-Money Laundering Act will boost investor confidence – Sen. Poe

Published January 30, 2021, 3:15 PM

by Vanne Elaine Terrazola

The newly-signed law strengthening the Anti-Money Laundering Act (AMLA) will help boost investor confidence in the Philippines and aid the country’s recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, Senator Grace Poe said on Saturday, Jan. 30.

Senator Grace Poe (Office of Sen. Grace Poe / MANILA BULLETIN FILE PHOTO)

Poe, chairperson of the Senate banks committee welcomed President Duterte’s signing of Republic Act No. 11521, which further amends and updates the AMLA to curb money laundering and terrorist financing activities.

“The fortified Anti-Money Laundering Act is a fresh signal to investors to put their trust and money into the financial system to help bring around the economy,” said the senator, who sponsored the bill in the Senate.

“With a more robust system in place of catching fraudsters, businesses, creditors and the international community can look to the Philippines anew with renewed confidence,” she added.

“As we rise from the battering of the COVID-19 pandemic, we need the resources of people willing to put in their investments to enliven our sectors, generate jobs and give our people sustainable income,” she continued.

Poe said that the new AMLA will also help protect the remittances of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs), and it assures them that their hard-earned money will go through legitimate channels when sent to their families.

“It is only fitting to protect the remittances of our OFWs, who help keep our economy afloat,” she said.

RA No. 11521, signed by President Duterte on Thursday, January 29, heeds the recommendations of the Paris-based watchdog Financial Action Task Force (FATF) and the Asia Pacific Group on Money Laundering (APG) to prevent the country from being “gray-listed” or tagged as high-risk for money laundering or terrorism financing.

The Philippines was given until February of this year to implement reforms in its AMLA.

Under the law, real estate developers and brokers with single transactions involving an amount in excess of P7.5 million are already covered by the AMLA, as well as offshore gaming operators and their service providers.

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

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

The AMLC will now also be allowed to implement targeted financial sanctions in relation 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 will immediately take effect after publication in the Official Gazette or in a newspaper.