House passes bill further strengthening anti-money laundering act on third reading

December 5, 2012 11:15 pm 

By Cielito M. Reganit

MANILA, Dec. 5 – The House of Representatives on Wednesday passed on third and final reading a measure that would further strengthen the Anti-Money Laundering Law, amending Republic Act 9160 or the Anti-Money Laundering Act of 2001.

HB 6565, principally authored by House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr., Majority Leader Neptali Gonzales II (Lone District, Madaluyong City) and Minority Leader Danilo Suarez (3rd District, Quezon), was passed with a vote of 141 lawmakers approving, seven against and one abstention.

President Benigno S. Aquino III had earlier certified the bill as urgent, paving the way for its speedy approval.

Belmonte said that the bill would strengthen further the anti-money laundering law by making it compliant with updated and revised international anti-money laundering/counter-terrorist financing standards.

The proposed amendatory statute, the authors said, revises the definition of money laundering to include conversion, transfer, disposition, movement, acquisition, possession, use, concealment or disguise of the proceeds of any unlawful activity.

While expanding the list of financial institutions covered, the bill provides for the inclusion of designated non-financial businesses and professions as reporting institution — casinos, real estate agents, dealers in precious metals, dealers in precious stones, and trust company service providers.

The proposed statute also provides for additional unlawful activities to money laundering – terrorism and terrorist financing, trafficking in human beings, sexual exploitation of children, corruption and bribery, forgery and environmental crimes.

Another vital provision added is granting the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) the authority to file a civil forfeiture case upon determination of probable cause.

Likewise, the bill allows AMLC to retain 25 percent of net proceeds of forfeited assets, and granting AMLC the authority to impose administrative sanctions.

The bill also addresses the noted deficiencies in the country's legal framework with regard to anti-money laundering, by making the Philippines fully compliant with the international standards set forth by the FATF and by directives laid down under the 1988 UN Convention Against Elicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (the Vienna Convention), the 2001 UN Convention Against Transnational Organized Crime (the Palermo Convention), the 2003 UN Convention Against Corruption (the Merida Convention), and other international standards in combating money laundering.

Other principal authors of the consolidated measure are Reps. Juan Edgardo Angara (Lone District, Aurora), Sergio Apostol (2nd District, Leyte), Sherwin Tugna (Party-list, CIBAC); Cinchona Cruz-Gonzales (Party-list, CIBAC); Antonio Kho (2nd District, Masbate); Philip Pichay (1st District, Surigao del Sur); Jeci Lapus (3rd District, Tarlac), Monique Yasmin Lagdameo (1st District, Makati City); and Isidro Lico (Party-list, Ating Koop). (PNA)

RMA/CMR

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