Guingona pushes inclusion of casinos in AMLA

By Marvin Sy, The Philippine Star

Posted at Mar 26 2014 09:41 AM | Updated as of Mar 26 2014 05:41 PM

MANILA - To further comply with the global standards on anti-money laundering and financing terrorism, Sen. Teofisto Guingona III renewed his bid to include casinos in the list of so-called covered institutions under the Anti-Money Laundering Act (AMLA).

Casinos were initially included in the list of covered institutions in the bill introduced in the Senate as part of the amendments to the AMLA, which was approved early last year.

In other jurisdictions, casinos are required to report single large or suspicious transactions, just as banks and other financial institutions are required to as part of the campaign to fight money laundering and the financing of terrorism.

The Financial Action Task Force (FATF), an inter-governmental body tasked to set standards and promote effective implementation of legal, regulatory and operational measures for combating money laundering and the financing of terrorism, requires the inclusion of casinos among the covered institutions in the anti-money laundering laws.

However, stiff opposition from the House of Representatives to the inclusion of casinos forced the Senate panel to exclude this sector in the bill approved by Congress that amended Republic Act 9160, or the AMLA.

The resulting Republic Act 10365 thus expanded the list of covered institutions but left out casinos.

RA 10365 was the third amendment to the AMLA approved by Congress during the Aquino administration as part of efforts to make the country compliant with the anti-money laundering and the combating of the financing of terrorism (AML/CFT) requirements and standards set by the FATF.

So even though casinos were not included in the third amendment, the FATF recognized the steps taken by the Philippine government to strengthen its AML/CFT regime and spared the country from being lumped alongside the non-compliant countries.

“These important developments were the basis for the decision of the FATF to remove the Philippines from the list of jurisdictions that are subject to FATF’s monitoring process under its ongoing global AML/CFT compliance process,” Guingona said.

Guingona, however, said the FATF, during its meetings held in June 2013 in Oslo, Norway, “vehemently urged” the Philippines to work with the Asia Pacific Group on Money Laundering in addressing the full range of AML/CFT issues, particularly in regulating the casino sector.

While acknowledging casinos generate a substantial amount of revenue and employment for the country, Guingona noted it is “equally exposed to the raging threats of money laundering and financing of terrorism.”

“Its vulnerabilities to criminal exploitation can be attributed to the fact that the casinos are cash intensive businesses with high volumes of large cash transactions taking place very quickly,” Guingona said.