BSP beefs up AMLC workforce

Published August 9, 2021, 4:07 PM

by Lee C. Chipongian

As part of efforts to correct deficiencies in reducing “dirty money” risks, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) has increased the manpower of the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC), the country’s financial intelligence unit, for a more timely and speedier collection of suspicious information.

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Last June 25, Paris-based Financial Action Task Force (FATF) has put the Philippines back on its “grey list”, one of 22 countries flagged by the body with serious Anti-Money Laundering and Combatting the Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT) deficiencies. The last time the country was on the FATF watch list was in 2013.

The AMLC has renewed its commitment to comply and submit the necessary progress reports to the FATF with a frequency of three times a year, and hiring additional personnel is part of the action plans towards the delisting.

The BSP’s announcement Monday of an opening of an AMLC satellite office at its Quezon City-based Security Plant Complex (SPC) is one of the initiatives for the eventual delisting from the global AML/CFT watch list. The AMLC branch was set up in the P2-billion minting facility inside SPC.

“Apart from its close proximity to law enforcement and intelligence agencies for easier coordination, the satellite office will accommodate the AMLC’s additional personnel,” said the BSP in a statement.

The additional workforce and the satellite office will advance the country’s International Cooperation Review Group Action Plan items, which include increasing the AMLC’s human resources to “ensure that it maintains effective operational analysis capacities and facilitates timely access by law enforcement agencies,” said the BSP.

“Addressing all action plan items would ultimately result in the country’s exit from the list of ‘jurisdictions under increased monitoring’ or the grey list,” the BSP added.

BSP Governor Benjamin E. Diokno, who is also the AMLC chair, said previously that it will take as long as two years before the Philippines will even have a chance to be removed from the “grey list” and that it will only happen “upon successful completion of all action plans — hopefully on or before January 2023.”

Progress reports are submitted to the FATF in January, May and September. The AMLC is currently preparing its final report for this year.

A grey-listed country, to be taken out of the list, will issue commitments to resolve swiftly the identified strategic deficiencies within agreed timeframes and is subject to increased monitoring.

The grey list is not as serious as the FATF’s “dark list” or “black list” but it still meant the Philippines have “strategic deficiencies in efforts to counter money laundering, terrorist financing, and proliferation financing.”

The Philippines has been on the FATF “black list” in 2000, before the Anti-Money Laundering Act of 2001 was passed into law.

It was in 2010 when the country was placed for the first time on the “grey list” and was even downgraded to the “dark grey list” in 2012 for failing to comply with some provisions.

In 2017, the Philippines was removed from the FATF watch list and it was considered FATF-compliant until June 25 this year when it was again included in the list of countries under its “Jurisdictions with strategic deficiencies” and “Jurisdictions under increased monitoring”.

 
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