The Philippine Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) will release by the third week of October a new regulatory framework on anti-money laundering for the casino sector, reported the Manila Bulletin newspaper.
The Anti-Money Laundering Council is a government body responsible for tackling the threat of money laundering in the Philippines.
Casinos became “covered persons” under the country’s amended Anti-Money Laundering Act, signed by President Rodrigo Duterte in July. Under the revised law, the country’s casino regulator, the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (Pagcor), and “other government regulatory agencies” – including the AMLC – had up to 90 days to promulgate what are known as “implementing rules and regulations”.
The Manila Bulletin quoted Mel Racela, the Anti-Money Laundering Council’s executive director, as saying on the sidelines of a Monday seminar, that between now and March 2018, the Council would issue several follow-up guidelines including ‘know your customer’ rules and risk profiling for casinos.
The 1st Philippine National Risk Assessment on Money Laundering and Terrorism Financing, published in 2016, found that the country’s casino sector was at “very high” risk of exposure to money laundering activities and identified “significant gaps in awareness of money laundering, in regulatory and law enforcement responses, and issues of control over junkets/VIP programmes.”
The report was a self-assessment by Philippine authorities, using the National Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing Risk Assessment Tool, developed and provided by the World Bank.
In 2016 the Philippines casino industry made world headlines following the theft allegedly by hackers of US$81 million belonging to the Bangladesh central bank – via an account at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York in the United States.
The money was diverted to four accounts at a Rizal Commercial Banking Corp (RCBC) branch in Makati, Metro Manila. The funds were later moved to Philippine casinos, where they mostly disappeared. Of the total that found its way into the Philippine financial system, only approximately US$15 million has so far been returned to Bangladesh, according to media reports.
As long ago as 2013 the Paris-based Financial Action Task Force (FATF) – a global body responsible for bolstering the fight against worldwide money laundering – warned the Philippine government there was an “outstanding deficiency” in that state’s rules on anti-money laundering and combatting the financing of terrorism in relation to casinos.
The FATF mentioned specifically the risks associated with the then-exemption of casinos from the country’s Anti-Money Laundering Act of 2001.
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"If you ask who is controlling [Okada Holdings, the controlling shareholder of conglomerate Universal Entertainment] now, I would say my control was fraudulently taken away from me and I am now doing everything in my power to take it back"
Japanese gaming entrepreneur