AMLC revokes registration of 2 more POGOs

The central bank-led Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) has revoked the registration of two more Philippine offshore gaming operators (POGOs) bringing to 6 the total cancelled registrations for being “uncooperative" in its efforts to curb money-laundering activities in the country.

AMLC said it has cancelled the registration of Shaw Global Leisure Limited and Winherld Entertainment World Limited after refusing to provide the government with necessary information to determine its compliance with rules and regulations, especially provisions in the anti-money laundering or AML law.

Philippine offshore gaming operations (POGO)

AMLC said both Show Global and Winherld Entertainment as covered persons have “failed or refused to cooperate with the AMLC in the conduct of its compliance-checking.”

Previously, AMLC has tagged four other POGOs as "uncooperative covered persons" -- MG Universal Link Limited, Inner Strong Limited, Smarc Group International Limited and New Wave Infotech Limited.

Supervising authorities such as the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (PAGCOR) “are further informed that the AMLC resolved to revoke the registration of those covered persons who failed or refused to cooperate with the AMLC.”

“Similarly, the public is hereby advised to be cautious and to observe appropriate protocols in dealing with (the) uncooperative covered persons” said ALMC.

Other appropriate government agencies or AGAs that supervise POGOs, besides PAGCOR, are Cagayan Special Economic Zone and the Aurora Pacific Economic Zone and Freeport Authority. The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) with the ALMC, is also working with the rest of the government to identify and curb illegally operating gaming businesses.

The BSP will issue its own reminder to all its BSP supervised financial institutions (BSFIs) to deal only with licensed gambling businesses and those that are complying with the AML law.

The BSP always cautions BSFIs to strictly observe the requirements of conducting customer due diligence, ongoing monitoring, and reporting of suspicious transactions.

In previous memos, BSP Deputy Governor Chuchi G. Fonacier has said that BSFIs should only deal with gambling and online gaming businesses that are authorized and licensed by the AGAs.

There are about 195 PAGCOR-supervised casinos and POGOs that are registered gaming companies with AMLC, not including the six uncooperative POGOs.

In a 2020 study, ALMC said POGOs that are not compliant with anti-money laundering/counter-terrorism financing (AML/CTF) rules are a potential breeding ground for fraudulent activities.

The AMLC study, “Understanding the Internet-Based Casino Sector in the Philippines: A Risk Assessment” strongly suggested a review of how regulators supervise POGOs and internet-based casinos and service providers (SPs) and to have a regulatory assessment.

The study also recommended the reevaluation of POGO licenses and the certificates of authority/operation of SPs with the end view of cancelling licenses and accreditation of those with “unfavorable records”.

The study said the BSP should issue guidance with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Insurance Commission, and AMLC, to covered persons to conduct enhanced due diligence on internet-based casinos and SPs.