The Philippines has made some progress in the regulatory framework for its land-based and online casino sectors, says the financial watchdog the Asia/Pacific Group on Money Laundering (APG).
The information was in the third follow-up report on a mutual evaluation of the country, dated July, but only publicised this week. The mutual evaluation process had begun in 2018, with the first report issued in the following year.
“The Philippines has… addressed gaps in fit and proper checks for Pagcor supervised casinos,” said the watchdog, referring to that nation’s casino regulator, the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp (Pagcor).
In June, the Paris-based watchdog the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) said the Philippines remained on its so-called ‘grey list’ of jurisdictions that require extra monitoring in relation to risk of financial crimes.
Nonetheless, the Asia/Pacific Group said in its latest update: “Pagcor, for casinos, and the Anti-Money Laundering Council, for all designated non-financial business and professions, have continued to develop their frameworks for risk-based anti-money laundering/combatting the financing of terrorism supervision”.
Prior to the latest update, the Philippines had requested “re-ratings” on a number of matters where it had been assessed as only “partially compliant”.
One of them was that that the suitability procedures relating to Pagcor licensees only covered boards of directors and not shareholders or beneficial owners.
The watchdog stated: “Since the mutual evaluation report, Pagcor has issued and approved additional probity check guidelines that are effective since 27 January 2022.”
The updated list of people subject to “fit and proper requirements”, and required to submit a personal disclosure statement to Pagcor, included not only the board of directors, but also “management functions/senior officers, shareholders holding at least 20 percent ownership or with significant controlling interest, and beneficial owners.”
The Asia/Pacific Group stated: “These provisions enable Pagcor to prevent criminals or their associates from holding significant or controlling interest, beneficial ownership, a management function or from operating a casino.”
The update said that the Philippines’ online gaming sector had “grown significantly” since the initial mutual evaluation and there had been “related changes to the legal, institutional and operational anti-money laundering/combatting the financing of terrorism frameworks covering offshore gaming operators.”
The watchdog added: “Both the Anti-Money Laundering Council and its ‘Implementing Rules and Regulations’ have been updated to prescribe offshore gaming operators and their service providers, as a specified category of covered person effective January 2021.”
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