MANILA - The Securities and Exchange Commission said Thursday it is backing amendments to the Bank Secrecy Law to help its efforts against financial crimes.
The SEC said amending Republic Act No. 1405, or the Secrecy of Bank Deposits Law, will help the country’s fight against money laundering, terrorist financing, tax evasion and other financial crimes.
"The amendments put forward under House Bill No. 8991 will, among others, empower the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) to inquire into and examine deposits when there is reasonable ground to believe that fraud, serious irregularity or unlawful activity has been committed by stockholders, owners, directors, trustees, officers or employees of supervised institutions, or their representatives, agents, related parties or conspirators," the SEC said.
Bangko Sentral Governor Benjamin Diokno earlier called on President Rodrigo Duterte to certify as urgent the bill seeking to amend the country's banking law.
The BSP earlier said it is backing the Bank Deposits Secrecy Bill.
The SEC noted that the bill lets the BSP and other regulators examine bank deposits when necessary to prevent or prosecute offenses or crimes.
Stringent bank secrecy rules have also limited the effectiveness of the SEC to establish the owners of bank accounts linked to violations of the Securities Code, the agency said.
"In certain cases, the Secrecy of Bank Deposits Law has prevented the SEC from validating information on the declared financial position of companies where there are grounds to believe that there is an effort to conceal misconduct, corporate fraud or noncompliance with certain requirements," it added.
Easing bank secrecy should lower costs of cross-border transactions and ease restrictions in investment and foreign currency inflows by keeping the Philippines off the “grey list” of jurisdictions for high risks of money laundering and terrorist financing, the SEC added.