Strengthen AMLA, relax bank secrecy
Published by the Visayan Daily Star
Editor-in-Chief & President
Bureau Chief, Dumaguete
MAJA P. DELY
|CARLOS ANTONIO L. LEONARDIA
In April the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, the Anti-Money Laundering Council and the Department of Finance made a last-ditch effort, seeking for the support of the leadership of the 16 th Congress, for draft bills aimed at strengthening the anti-money laundering law (AMLA) and amending the Bank Secrecy Law in light of the entry of $81 million in stolen money from Bangladesh's central bank into Rizal Commercial Banking Corp. and eventually into casinos in February.
Those bills, along with amendments to the BSP charter, will be among the priority legislation that BSP Governor Amando Tetangco Jr. will be pushing during the 17 th Congress.
The three agencies then sought the inclusion of casinos, real estate brokers, art dealers and motor vehicle dealers as covered persons in the AMLA. They also pitched for foreign exchange dealers, money changers, remittance and money transfer businesses to be placed under the BSP's supervising authority for AMLA purposes.
BSP governor Tetangco has also voiced support for easing the country's “very strict” yet antiquated bank secrecy law.
The BSP governor may take comfort in President Duterte's pronouncement during his State of the Nation address that he would work to relax the country's bank secrecy laws even if it the contents of his bank accounts were one of the issues that were raised against him during the campaign period. We join him in hoping members of the Duterte-controlled 17 th Congress were also listening to the President's marching orders with regards to that particular issue.
The resistance of Congress to strengthen AMLA and relax bank secrecy laws has been linked to the vested interests of its members who may be hiding ill-gotten or unreported wealth behind a weak AMLA and iron-clad bank secrecy laws that have made the Philippines a prime destination for money launderers and ill-gotten wealth.
If the members of the 17 th Congress follow the recommendation of the BSP head and the marching orders of their president, it would certainly prove to their people that they have the best interest of the country's banks in mind instead of their own selfish interests.*