The Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines (IPOPHL) has vowed to run after the money trail of counterfeiters and content pirates as the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) tighten its rules against terrorism financing in the country.
IPOPHL Director General Rowel S. Barba said this will be its contribution to the fight by the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) against terrorism financing even as it also supports the AMCL in urging foreign financial institutions to cease from wholesale “de-risking” and burdening Philippine-related transactions with additional unnecessary scrutiny.
“Following the money trail involving counterfeiters and content pirates is a good start. And a mechanism for this is what we hope to establish with legal enforcement authorities (LEAs) and financial payment gateways,” said Barba as IPOPHL’s contribution to AMLA in fighting “dirty money.”
Barba pointed out that there is evidence around the world that IP violation activities like counterfeiting and piracy fund terrorists. “This is why counterfeiting is one of the areas monitored by Interpol and why IPOPHL is part of the AMLC subcommittee,” he said.
It could be recalled that since the country’s inclusion in the list of jurisdictions under increased monitoring by the FATF, the National Anti-Money Laundering/Combating the Financing of Terrorism Coordinating Committee (NACC) said Philippine entities have been subjected to de-risking, changes in corresponding banking relationships and enhanced due diligence measures.
This means that Philippine-related transactions have been subjected to more scrutiny, or worse, de-risking.
Financial institutions resort to de-risking by terminating or restricting business relationships with clients or categories of clients to avoid, rather than manage, risk.
“De-risking could deprive Philippine businesses and nationals from financial services that can provide the means for their survival and recovery from this crisis,” Barba pointed out.
IPOPH is a member of the Financial Intelligence, Law Enforcement and Prosecution Sub-Committee (FILEPSC), IPOPHL continues to strengthen the fight against counterfeiting and piracy, which have been identified as among the sources of money laundering and financing of organized criminal groups around the world
The FILEPSC is a sub-committee of NACC the body that oversees the implementation of the National Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Financing of Terrorism Strategy (NACS) approved in 2018 by President Rodrigo R. Duterte through Executive Order 68.
This year, IPOPHL aims to revive its dialogue with financial payment gateways and LEAs. In their last meeting in 2020, the gaps in tracking the “dirty money” flow; onboarding processes that ensure legitimacy of partners and transactions; and IP crime investigations and enforcement were discussed.
“We look forward to continuing our partnership and synergy with payment gateways and LEAs to address these gaps,” Barba said.
Barba said IPOPHL is also currently exploring a coordination mechanism with the National Privacy Commission to streamline the sharing of data between IPOPHL, payment gateways and LEAs, which will be crucial for a timely arrest of IP crimes and action against perpetrators.
“We hope to succeed in our collaboration goals this year and that our efforts contribute to the delisting of the Philippines from the FATF Grey List,” the IPOPHL chief said.
For his part, IPOPHL Deputy Director General Teodoro Pascua said that Philippines should first get out of FATF grey listing stressing it is important for recovery and enhancing business relations with legit financial services.
De-risking is severing or avoiding relationships with risky institutions/businesses (eg., financial intermediaries).
Pascua said IPOPHL engages closely with financial services/businesses (though with risks), we approach it with a view to narrow the gaps (risks) or exposures to risky situations thus avoid “de-risking” and instead closing the gaps of risks which financial businesses are exposed to.