AMLC adopts stricter controls against money laundering


MANILA, Philippines – The Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC)  stepped up efforts to fight money laundering as well as criminal and terrorism financing.
AMLC Secretariat Executive Director Mel Georgie Racela said on Wednesday, December 6, that the government has approved the AMLC Registration and Reporting Guidelines (ARRG).
The ARRG consolidates all related AMLC resolutions under a single issuance. It is part of an initiative to provide a framework for reporting to AMLC's online system and to ensure proper and timely compliance with reporting procedures.
"The AMLC had long wanted a revamp of the system and rules on registration and reporting due to the surge in the number of covered persons, and thus, of their transactions," Racela explained.
He added that the ARRG is a big step in improving the usefulness of information submitted by institutions covered by the Anti-Money Laundering Act (AMLA) .
Following amendments, the law requires institutions such as banks, insurance companies, and securities dealers to submit suspicious transaction reports (STRs) within 5 days from the occurrence of an incident.
While the ARRG applies to a wide range of institutions, Racela said it excludes casinos which were added to the list of institutions covered by AMLA this year. 
Casinos, he explained, would have a separate set of registration and reporting guidelines.
Ensuring a culture of compliance
The adoption of the ARRG should strengthen the tools available to the AMLC in its fight against money laundering as well as criminal and terrorism financing, according to Racela.
He also noted that the imposition of appropriate sanctions, after observance of due process, would ensure a culture of compliance among officials of covered institutions.
"The quality of STRs had to be improved. The AMLC had also striven to find suitable ways to establish a central linkage among the supervising authorities that would facilitate our coordination," he added.
As part of the ARRG, two new facilities will now allow covered persons to upload know-your-customer (KYC) documents for STRs and e-returns via the AMLC portal.
These are to be uploaded if the reason for suspicion is based on the predicate crimes of kidnapping for ransom, drug trafficking, hijacking, destructive arson, and murder, plus acts of terrorism and terrorism financing.
The upload of KYC documents should be done before the STR is uploaded.
Racela also said the new controls should ensure confidentiality of the process and particularly, that no "tipping off" of customers would happen during the entire chain.
Earlier this year, the Philippines was once again tagged as a major money laundering site by the US State Department.  – Rappler.com

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