Anti-money laundering body investigating Pharmally?

The Anti-Money Laundering Council may have hinted Thursday, Sept. 23 that it has started the “first stage” in determining possible money laundering activities involving Pharmally Pharmaceuticals.

House of Representatives plenary

This after Quirino Rep. Junie Cua, vice chairman of the House Committee on Appropriations, denied that AMLC is not doing anything about the issue raised before the Blue Ribbon Committee on the Senate.

Asst. Minority Leader and Gabriela Partylist Rep. Arlene Brosas is convinced that Pharmally should be investigated by AMLC especially after it gained huge following its over P8 billion supply deals with government.

Brosas said the AMLC has not done anything to look into the Pharmally deals with government.

“Hindi naman walang ginawang aksyon. (It's not that it did not take any action). Nasa first stage pa lamang sila ng (They are still in the first stage of) intelligence gathering, analyzing the transaction,” said Cua during the plenary deliberation of the AMLC budget for 2022.

Cua explained that whatever AMLC is doing cannot be revealed in public because intelligence work are part of “clandestine operations”.

“If there is possible money laundering, that will trigger those activities. As I said, those things will not be telegraphed to the public,” he stressed.

When asked if AMLAC has already made any ‘suspicious transaction report” with regards Pharmally’s financial deals, Cua said AMLC may reveal its response only in an executive session.

“Maybe it is still early to say,” the Quirino lawmaker stated.

In reaction, Brosas quipped: “Obviously ayaw tayo sagutin ng AMLAC (AMLAC does want to respond).”

The opposition solon also raised the AMLAC decision to freeze the bank accounts of Amihan, a women peasant organization.”

She said Amihan’s bank accounts were freezed on May 5, 2021 on suspicion of links with terrorists. She noted that the AMLAC decision was triggered mainly by the testimony of just two witnesses from the government.

“These are confidential matters. Amihan has been found to be related to a certain terrorist group and this was validated by intelligence reports,” Cua answered.

“They are being surveilled. Therefore, that being the case under the law, AMLAC can do whatever is necssary with regards to the freezing of the account,” he explained, after consulting with AMLAC officials who were present during the budget defense.

In response, Brosas slammed AMLAC for “being quick at poring over the bank accounts of Amihan” whose members are peasants who are facing financial difficulties as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Kapag progressive organizations, pinagtutuunan ninyo agad ng pansin pero clueless ang AMLAC pagdating sa Pharmally (If it concerns progressive organizations you are quick to act but AMLC is clueless when it comes to Pharmally.)” she said.