The anti-money laundering watchdog in the Philippines says it is still working to get the country off a risk list drawn up by the Paris-based Financial Action Task Force (FATF).
The Philippines’ Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) noted in a statement reported on Monday that “guidelines are in place to examine and enforce AML/CFT controls such as a monitoring system to address the risks associated with casino junkets”. That was a reference to efforts on anti-money laundering (AML) and combatting the financing of terrorism (CFT).
On Friday, the FATF had issued an update on countries and places that were on its so-called “grey list” in relation to what it calls “strategic deficiencies” in those matters.
The body said the Philippines was still on the list. It was one of a number of jurisdictions that had had its “progress reviewed by the FATF since June 2022”, the last time that an update had been issued by the international task force.
The Philippines should “continue to work on implementing its action plan to address its strategic deficiencies,” including by “demonstrating that supervisors are using AML/CFT controls to mitigate risks associated with casino junkets,” said the FATF.
In July this year, the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp (Pagcor), the country’s casino regulator, had issued a guideline stating that all land-based casinos “must assess the fitness and propriety nature” of their junket operators and related associates, agents or promoters.
The FATF mentioned in its latest review summary the need to see the Philippines “enhancing and streamlining law enforcement agency access to beneficial-owner information,” and taking steps to ensure such information was “accurate and up-to-date”.
In comments to the Business World news outlet, Matthew David, the AMLC’s executive director, was cited as saying “continuous high-level and operational discussions are ongoing with the relevant agencies”.
He added that a body called the National AML/CFT Coordinating Committee would “continue engaging with relevant government agencies to ensure that strategies and mechanisms are in place,” to address what he termed the country’s “action plans”.
The FATF had announced in June 2021 that the Philippines had been added to its grey list.
The latest update from the body said that since that time, the Philippines had made a “high-level political commitment” to work with the FATF and another body, the Asia/Pacific Group on Money Laundering, “to strengthen the effectiveness” of that country’s “AML/CFT regime”.
In a highly-publicised incident in 2016, some of the US$81 million in money stolen from the Bank of Bangladesh via an online heist, passed through gaming operations at several Philippine casinos before mostly disappearing.
From 2000 until February 2005, the Philippines was on an FATF list of “non-compliant countries and territories” in relation to financial monitoring – also known as a “blacklist” – according to publicly available information from the FATF.
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