Senate passes bill strengthening AMLA law

February 4, 2013 11:40 pm 

By Jelly Musico

MANILA, Feb. 4 – The Senate unanimously passed Monday night a bill seeking to further strengthen the Anti-Money Laundering Law by expanding the list of unlawful activities and predicate crimes to include terrorism and conspiracy to commit to terrorism, bribery, malversation of public funds, forgery and counterfeiting and tax evasion.

Voting 15-0 with no abstention, the Senate approved the Senate Bill 3123 on second and third reading after President Benigno Aquino III certified it as urgent, effectively fast-tracking its enactment.

During the period of amendments, Sen. Joker Arroyo was able to convince Sen. Teofisto Guingona III, the bill's sponsor, to delete the retention of “25 percent” of the forfeited assets to the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC).

Arroyo also inserted an amendment which reads: “both the penalty of imprisonment ranging from 4 to 7 years and a fine corresponding to not more than 200 percent of the value of the monetary instrument or property laundered shall be imposed upon the covered persons, directors, officers or personnel who knowingly participated in the commission of the crime of money laundering.”

Last Wednesday, the Senate excluded real-estate brokers and agents from those covered by the AMLA but retained persons who buy and sell real estate with the proviso that transaction involves “at least P25 million.”

The Senate also amended last week the inclusion of casinos and internet gaming among the bill covered institutions, providing reporting “shall only arise when there is knowledge or suspicion of money laundering.”

Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago, who is on sick leave, sent written amendments but Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile rejected the lady senator’s proposals “because she did not respond to the roll call.”

Other persons covered by the AMLA amendments include: foreign exchange dealers and money changers, remittance agents, dealers of precious metals and persons managing of client money and securities.

The Senate named Senators Guingona, Sergio Osmena III, Francis ‘Kiko’ Panglinan, Franklin Drilon, Ferdinand Marcos Jr., Antonio Trillanes IV, Pia Cayetano, Ralph Recto, Manny Villar, Ramon Revilla Jr. and Joker Arroyo as representatives to the bicameral conference committee.

The bicam meeting is set at 1pm on Tuesday at the Philippine Senate.

Senate Bill 3123 is one of the three proposed AMLA amendments being pushed to spare the country from being blacklisted by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF).

The Senate has already passed SBs 3127 and 3009 which recently signed by President Aquino into law.

SB 3127 or the Terrorism Financing Prevention and Suppression Act seeks to allow authorities to freeze terrorist funds and punish any person who assisted in acts of terrorism.

On the other hand, SB 3009 seeks to allow the AMLC to inquire into bank deposits based on an ex-parte application and allow courts other than the Court of Appeals to issue freeze orders. (PNA)

HBC/JFM

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