MANILA, Philippines — The House of Representatives approved on final reading on Tuesday the bill strengthening the Anti-Money Laundering Act.
With 213 affirmative votes, seven negative, and three abstentions, the lower chamber approved House Bill No. 7904, which amends the current Anti-Money Laundering Act.
The measure seeks to protect and preserve bank accounts’ integrity and confidentiality and ensure that the Philippines will not be used as a money-laundering site for the proceeds of any unlawful activity.
It likewise seeks to enforce targeted financial sanctions on those involved in financing the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, terrorism, and financing of terrorism.
Under the bill, the scope of predicate offenses in the anti-money laundering law is expanded by including tax crimes and violations of the Strategic Trade Management Act on financing the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.
Likewise, the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) is authorized to implement targeted financial sanctions, including the ex-parte freezing of funds and assets belonging to individuals or entities designated and listed under the United Nations resolutions relating to the prevention, suppression, and disruption of the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.
The AMLC is also authorized to preserve, manage, and dispose of assets subject to freeze orders or asset preservation orders and to retain forfeited assets pending turnover to the government.
The bill also enhances and strengthens the investigative powers of AMLC, particularly its subpoena and contempt powers.
In March this year, AMLC said the Financial Action Task Force recommended the amendment of the country’s anti-money laundering laws to keep its financing regulations at par with global standards. [ac]