Include casinos, art in anti-money laundering law – SEC chief

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Include casinos, art in anti-money laundering law – SEC chief
Teresita Herbosa, who also co-chairs the Anti-Money Laundering Council, says her office will now push for the inclusion of casinos in the coverage of the Anti-Money Laundering Act

MANILA, Philippines – Securities and Exchange Commission Chairperson Teresita Herbosa called on Congress to further strengthen the country’s Anti-Money Laundering Act, with the Philippines’ involvement in the $100M Bangladesh Bank heist serving as “good stimulus” for the move.

Herbosa said in an interview on the sidelines of a regional meeting on Monday, March 14, that there is a need to expand the coverage of the reporting entities and ensure that the Anti-Money Laundering Council has the necessary powers to conduct investigation on perpetrators.

Herbosa said AMLC will now push for the inclusion of casinos and art in the coverage of AMLA.

“We need to strengthen the law. Money laundering can only be stopped if everyone in the world cooperates,” Herbosa, who also co-chairs AMLC, told reporters.

“It’s a global effort to eradicate money laundering. We have to catch up with people doing that activity and while we are doing that we need to strengthen the laws of each country to comfort to best practices,” she added.

‘Good stimulus’

She said the recent incident should be a “good stimulus” to prompt legislators to strengthen the AMLA, like adding certain groups or individuals, such as casinos, as covered institutions.

“I’m sure they’ll be considered for the next round of amendments. That’s (recent reports on money laundering) a very good stimulus for everyone to seriously consider who should, or should not be considered,” Herbosa said.

About $100 million in funds were illegally taken out of Bangladesh Bank’s account with the Federal Reserve Bank of New York in early February using an interbank messaging system known as SWIFT. The laundered money was moved via transfer requests, with about $81 million ending up in bank accounts in the Philippines and the remaining going to an account in Sri Lanka.

Another $850 million was supposed to be wired to personal bank accounts in the Philippines, but was blocked by authorities just in time, according to a Philippine Daily Inquirer report.

Herbosa said she hopes the government will be able to recover the $81 million that had been traced to Rizal Commercial Banking Corporation (RCBC) and 3 large casinos.

“I’m sure somehow, some of it will be recovered. I am an optimistic person and I believe in the rule of law,” Herbosa said. 

Herbosa is invited to attend the Senate hearing on the money laundering case on Tuesday, March 15. Other key resource persons include Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Governor and Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) Chair Amando Tetangco Jr., AMLC Executive Director Julia Bacay-Abad, RCBC president and CEO Lorenzo Tan, Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation chair and CEO Cristino Naguiat Jr, as well as officials of Solaire Resort and Casino, Midas Hotel and Casino, and City of Dreams. – 

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