The Philippines has remained on the “grey list” of the Paris-based watchdog the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), regarding jurisdictions that require increased monitoring in relation to risk of financial crimes. The updated list was published on Friday, following a three-day plenary meeting of the organisation.
According to the FATF, when a jurisdiction is under increased monitoring, it means the country “has committed to resolve swiftly the identified strategic deficiencies” in its anti-money laundering (AML) and combatting the financing of terrorism (CFT) framework.
The Philippines were added to the ‘grey list’ in June 2021.
In its Friday release, the FATF acknowledged that, since June last year, the Philippines had “taken steps towards improving its AML/CFT regime”. But the FATF listed a total of eight areas where more should be done.
Despite meeting some targets “ahead of any relevant deadlines,” the FATF said the country had to “continue to work to implement its action plan,” in order to address the country’s AML/CFT deficiencies.
Among the recommendations, the international body said the Philippines had to demonstrate that it was making use of AML and CFT controls “to mitigate risks associated with casino junkets”.
Local media outlet Business World quoted the executive director of the country’s Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC), Mel Georgie B. Racela, as saying that the Philippine authorities “continue to work together in strengthening the country’s AML/CFT measures and in showing progress toward effectiveness.”
Mr Racela also said that the country’s gaming regulator, the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp (Pagcor), was the relevant agency implementing the action plan regarding casino and junket operations.
“Pagcor is currently identifying risks posed by junket operations and will subsequently implement necessary measures to mitigate these risks,” Mr Racela reportedly said.
The Philippines has a significant and growing casino and online gaming sector that in pre-pandemic times sought customers from across the Asia-Pacific region and beyond.
In January 2021, the Philippine Senate and House of Representatives respectively approved amendments to the country’s Anti-Money Laundering Act, adding Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGOs) and their “service providers” as “covered persons” under the legislation.
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