MANILA – Incoming finance chief businessman Carlos "Sonny" Dominguez thinks it's about time to liberalize the country's bank secrecy law to help fight money laundering in light of the cyberheist of $81-million from the central bank of Bangladesh.
"I think we have to be back in step with the rest of the world and give tax authorities the right to open bank accounts in case of tax evasion cases," said Dominguez in his first live TV interview since being picked by President-elect Rodrigo Duterte for the finance portfolio.
READ: Int’l expert recommends easing PH bank secrecy laws
Dominguez said the Philippines is only one of two countries in the world that does not use the tax evasion as a predicate crime for allowing the opening of bank accounts.
READ: INFOGRAPHIC: Secrets of the Bank Secrecy Law
During the Senate hearing, officials of the Rizal Commercial Banking Corporation (RCBC), the bank where the stolen money was coursed through, declined to answer queries about the transaction, citing the country's bank secrecy law.
Meantime, Dominguez said part of the reform policies of the incoming Duterte government is to clean up and get rid of crooks in the Bureau of Customs and the Bureau of Internal Revenue.
"Let me just mention that as part of this tax reform move, we intend to clean up the Bureau of Internal Revenue as well as the Bureau of Customs which unfortunately have now the worst reputation for corruption," he said.
By doing so, this would assure people that they will not be harassed by corrupt officials if they open up their bank accounts.
"The trust has to be put in place before people will accept a change in bank secrecy laws," he said.