Philippine Authorities to Release New Casino Anti-Money Laundering Controls in Mid-October

The Philippine Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) is set to present a new framework for the regulation of the nation’s casinos as “covered persons” under the recently introduced amendments to the Anti-Money Laundering Act of 2001 by mid-October.

Attorney Mel Georgie Racela, Executive Director of the AMLC, told local media on Tuesday that they are targeting an October 10-14 release of the new regulations. The Council was given up to October 27 to introduce the new framework, which will aim to tighten anti-money laundering controls within the Philippine casino industry.

The Philippines’ New Anti-Money Laundering Regulations

The Asia-Pacific Group on Money Laundering, an autonomous international entity comprised of more than 40 participating countries from the region, has repeatedly urged the Philippine government to improve its anti-money laundering regulations and to include casinos as covered businesses under those regulations.

The much-called-for inclusion occurred in May 2017, when the nation’s government approved the move. Amendments to the Anti-Money Laundering Act of 2001 were signed by Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte in mid-July and came into force later that month. The AMLC, known to be the anti-money laundering unit of the nation’s Central Bank, had up until October 27 or precisely 90 days to develop a new regulatory framework that would cover local casinos.

Said framework will be titled the Implementing Rules and Regulations and will provide casinos, including online gaming entities and casinos on cruise ships, with the necessary guidelines on how suspicious persons and transactions should be treated. Mr. Racela told media that additional guidelines will be issued by the AMLC in the months to March 2018, so as for the council to present more clarity on what gambling venues should do to ensure that their premises are not used for illicit money flows and related illegal activities.

The new regulatory framework will include Know Your Customer (KYC) rules and guidelines on how KYC and due diligence procedures should be performed. In addition, under the nation’s Anti-Money Laundering Act, gambling venues will have to report all suspicious transactions taking place on property as well as all cash transactions of and over PHP5 million. Customer- and transaction-related documents will need to be kept by casino operators in case they are needed at a later stage.

Mr. Racela said that they are finalizing the 21-page document that will contain the regulations covering local casinos. As mentioned above, the Council plans to publish the regulatory framework in mid-October or well ahead of its designated deadline.

The Philippines casino industry and what appeared to be rather lax anti-money laundering controls were placed under scrutiny after the heist of $81 million from the Central Bank of Bangladesh back in 2016. It was found out that a big portion of the money was transferred to Philippine bank accounts. The money then disappeared in local casinos.

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