The head of the Philippine Securities and Exchange Commission, Teresita Herbosa, said her office would push for casinos to be covered by the country’s anti-money laundering (AML) law, reported Philippine newspaper the Standard.
Ms Herbosa on Monday called on the country’s Congress to strengthen further the Anti-Money Laundering Act, amid reports that part of US$81 million allegedly stolen from Bangladesh’s central bank found its way into Philippines casinos.
The official cited the need to expand the range of institutions covered by statutory AML protocols and to ensure that the country’s Anti-Money Laundering Council has powers to conduct investigations into organisations or individuals suspected of breaching such protocols. Ms Herbosa also co-chairs the Anti-Money Laundering Council.
“It’s a global effort to eradicate money laundering. We have to catch up with people doing such activity and while we are doing that we need to strengthen the laws of each country to conform to best practices,” Ms Herbosa was quoted saying in Monday’s report.
The official additionally said the recent case of alleged stolen funds being laundered in Philippines casinos should be a “good stimulus” to add certain groups to the Anti-Money Laundering Act.
“I’m sure they’ll [casinos] be considered for the next round of amendments,” Ms Herbosa was quoted saying.
The exclusion of casinos from anti-money laundering (AML) obligations contained specifically in the country’s Anti-Money Laundering Act was at the request of some lawmakers and the country’s gaming regulator, the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp, also known as Pagcor, said Senator Teofisto Guingona in February 2013, following the approval of some revisions to the 2001 act.
In early March Pagcor said it was investigating claims that at least three casinos in the country were used as part of a money laundering scheme
Ms Herbosa is among the officials invited to hearings of the Senate starting on Tuesday. The chairman of Pagcor and executives from several of the country’s casino resorts have also been invited to the hearings.
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"I am not going to speculate on what the [casino licence refreshment] tender requirements would be. I have full confidence and faith in the Macau government to treat everyone fairly"
Wilfred Wong Ying Wai
President and chief operating officer of Macau-based casino operator Sands China