MANILA, Philippines - A bill seeking to strengthen the country's anti-money laundering law by expanding the list of institutions required to reports suspicious financial transactions to the government is likely to be passed next week, Sen. Teofisto Guingona III said on Thursday.
Guingona, the sponsor of Senate Bill 3123, said the period of amendments may be finished on Monday and the bill passed on second and third readings on the same day, since the bill has been certified as urgent.
The bicameral conference committee may then be convened on Tuesday, and the bill's final version ratified on Wednesday, the last day of session before the congressional break.
This week, Senate Bill 3123 underwent intense scrutiny in the periods of interpellation and amendments.
Among the amendments that Guingona accepted are the inclusion of a proviso requiring casinos to report only transactions that they find suspicious regardless of the amount involved, removing real estate brokers in the list of covered institutions, and removing tax evasion from the list of predicate crimes.
With only three session days left before Congress goes on recess, proponents of the measure are racing against time to pass it before the February 18 deadline of the international group Financial Action Task Force. The group threatens to impose sanctions on the Philippines if the bill is not passed.
Two bills strengthening the Anti-Money Laundering Act have earlier been signed into law: 1) allowing the Anti-Money Laundering Council to look into a suspicious bank account even without informing the depositor and 2) penalizing terrorist financing.