Palace expects PHL to pass Financial Action Task Force scrutiny

June 7, 2012 9:48 pm 

MANILA, June 7 — Malacanang hopes that the passage of the two bills related to money laundering by the Senate would be a substantial compliance to the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) for the country to avoid being blacklisted by the international body.

The Senate approved on Wednesday on third and final reading one of the bills, the Senate Bill No. 3127 or the Terrorism Financing Prevention and Suppression Act of 2012, which will allow authorities to look into and freeze bank accounts of suspected terrorist groups without a court order.

SB 3127 amends Republic Act No. 9160 or the Anti-Money Laundering Act of 2001 which states that the Anti-Money Laundering Council is authorized to freeze any account only upon confirmation of probable cause to do so. The amendment also covers terrorist financing.

The Senate needs to pass the bill in order for the Philippines not to be blacklisted by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF).

The FATF, a Paris-based inter-governmental body which promotes policies against money laundering and terrorist financing, will be assessing the country's fight against money laundering from June 18 to 22.

“We hope that this would be considered by the FATF as substantial compliance. There’s a deadline set by the FATF, June 18… and the executive director of the Anti-Money Laundering Council Vicente Aquino will be going to Paris to explain our position,” Presidential Spokesman Edwin Lacierda said in a press conference in Malacanang on Thursday.

Aquino will also be discussing the phase of the passage of the two bills and explain its dependency on the recent impeachment trial of the Supreme Court chief justice.

“And in spite of the length of time that the trial took place, we were able to pass two out of the three bills. And hopefully that will be appreciated by the FATF as substantial compliance. We hope to pass the third bill sometime around…until October. So we leave it to the AMLC to explain it to FATF,” Lacierda added.

The bill allows the government to run after those involved in international terrorist-financing activities, according to its proponent. It also empowers the Philippine government, “subject to the principle of reciprocity, consider the International Convention for the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism as a legal basis for requesting or granting extradition in respect of the offenses set forth under the Act.” (PNA)

DCT/scs/PCOO/ssc

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