Marcos pushes for AMLA reforms
Senator Maria Imelda Josefa "Imee" Marcos said Filipinos working abroad and sending money back to the country may face difficulties if legislation seeking to strengthen the county's anti-money laundering efforts are delayed, according to a report by Philippine News Agency.
In a statement Monday, Marcos said Filipinos "will face difficulties in their financial transactions if an international monitor decides this month that the country has not done enough to curb money laundering".
This came as the Paris-based Financial Action Task Force (FATF) is set to complete its review of the Philippines' anti-money laundering measures this October after a one-year observation period.
“Overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) and the business and banking communities will bear the brunt of international sanctions, if the FATF calls out the country as a money laundering hotspot. International banks may decide to require more identity checks and paperwork or even impose higher transaction rates on Filipino remittances, causing delays in money transfers and making them more costly,” Marcos explained.
She added that this would affect living and educational expenses of OFW families amid the Covid-19 pandemic, weaken investor and lender confidence, and might result in a decrease in the country's foreign currency reserves.
According to the FATF, the Philippines is fully compliant with only eight of its 40 recommended amendments to the AMLA, while largely compliant with 20 amendments, partially compliant with 11 amendments, and non-compliant with one amendment.
Marcos has sought to amend the AMLA and integrate the FATF’s recommendations through Senate Bill 1545, to avert the country’s inclusion in the dreaded Grey List of countries considered high-risk for misuse of the international financial system.
The bill proposes to give the Anti-Money Laundering Council the power to use investigative and surveillance techniques, subpoena suspects, conduct search and seizure, freeze assets and order their forfeiture, as well as make the agency immune from court injunctions other than those from the Court of Appeals or the Supreme Court.
Besides compliance with international standards in financial transactions, the bill also aims to curb terrorist financing in the country by adhering to United Nations Security Council resolutions listing individuals and entities suspected of terrorism.
The Philippine government has reported to the UN that remittance agencies, import/export companies, and non-profit organizations are being used to finance terrorist activity in the country.
“Indeed, amending the AMLA is a national economic and national security emergency,” Marcos said.
Last week, President Rodrigo Duterte certified as urgent Senate Bill No. 1412 and its counterpart in the lower chamber, House Bill No. 6174, which seeks to strengthen Republic Act 9160 or the Anti-Money Laundering Act of 2001.
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