Changes to AMLA approved by bicam-A A +A
Tuesday, February 5, 2013
SENATORS and congressmen approved Tuesday a single version of a bill that would amend the Anti-Money Laundering Act (Amla).
The bill will then be sent to both houses of Congress for ratification and enactment by President Benigno Aquino III.
The reconciled version of Senate Bill 3123 and House Bill 6565 requires not only banks but all establishments covered, supervised, and controlled by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP), the Insurance Commission, and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to promptly report to the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) transactions suspected of money laundering.
These include money changers, foreign exchange corporations and other similar establishments, pre-need companies real-estate brokers, dealers of precious stones and metal dealers, among others.
The Senate pushed for the inclusion of casinos but this was defeated in the congressional committee.
Under the proposed measure, additional predicate crimes will now include trafficking in persons, bribery, counterfeiting, fraud and other illegal exactions, malversation, forgery, environmental crimes, and terrorism and its financing.
Senator Teofisto Guingona III, one of the bill's sponsors, said this will help reinforce the country's anti-money laundering campaign and address deficiencies in the Philippines' legal framework with regard to the crime, as stated by the Paris-based Financial Action Task Force (FATF).
At present, the law limits the crime of money laundering to the transaction of laundered funds and property, and that the accused must enter into a contract of sale, donation, or similar transactions before he can be made liable.
The bill reverses this scheme as government can now go after those who engage in the conversion, transfer, movement, disposal of, possession, use, and concealment or disguise, of the monetary proceeds of a criminal act.
On forfeiture of assets, Guingona said probable cause must first be determined to prove that "any monetary instrument or property is found to be related to an unlawful activity or a money laundering offense."
During the debates on the measure, some senators had questioned the inclusion of the crime of tax evasion as a money-laundering offense, saying this might be used for political persecution.
Last year, President Aquino signed into law two AMLA related measures, namely: Terrorism Financing Prevention and Suppression Act (Republic Act 10168), which seeks to allow authorities to freeze terrorist funds, and the Anti-Money Laundering Act (Republic Act 10167) which seeks to allow the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) to inquire into bank deposits based on an ex parte application and allow courts other than the Court of Appeals to issue freeze orders. (Virgil Lopez/Sunnex)