The Philippines has been removed from an international money laundering watch list after enacting a law that brings the nation’s casinos within the scope of the country’s Anti-Money Laundering Act, said the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) in a press release.
According to the announcement, the decision to remove the Philippines from the watch list was adopted at the Asia/Pacific Group on Money Laundering (APG) annual meeting, held in Sri Lanka last month.
“During the annual meeting, the Philippine delegation reported to APG membership that the casino bill has been signed into law by the President,” said the AMLC in the release. “As such, the Philippines has been taken out from APG membership action,” it added.
The AMLC is a government body tasked with fighting money laundering in the Philippines.
The amended Anti-Money Laundering Act was signed by President Rodrigo Duterte on July 14 and it became effective on August 3. Under the law, the country’s casino regulator, the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (Pagcor), and “other government regulatory agencies” have up to 90 days to promulgate what are known as “implementing rules and regulations”.
The amended law requires casinos to report to the AMLC what are referred to as “covered transactions”. Gaming operators must report any single casino cash transaction that involves an amount of more than PHP5 million (US$100,000) or its equivalent in any other currency.
Last year the Philippines reportedly narrowly escaped being placed on a blacklist of a body linked to the APG – the Paris-based Financial Action Task Force.
It followed the theft 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 – which was then diverted to four accounts at a Rizal Commercial Banking Corp branch in Makati, Metro Manila. The money was later moved to Philippine casinos, where it 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.
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