BSP amends 'dirty money' law

By Prinz P. Magtulis, The Philippine Star

Posted at Sep 01 2012 10:08 AM | Updated as of Sep 02 2012 02:14 AM

MANILA, Philippines - Rules implementing the “dirty money” law have been amended to reflect a new law that allows the government to scrutinize and freeze bank accounts even without the consent of the depositor.

Amendments to the implementing rules and regulations (IRR) of Republic Act (RA) 9160 or the Anti-Money Laundering Act, as amended by RA 10167 enacted on July, were published on The STAR yesterday and will become effective 15 days after.

Changes were focused on allowing the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) to look at “any particular deposit or investment” of an individual or an organization suspected of violating RA 9160 “based on an ex parte application” before the Court of Appeals.

Freezing of “any monetary instrument and property” were also allowed upon AMLC’s application. This would mean that if the appellate court grants its petition, the government will have the power to freeze and/or scrutinize bank accounts and other properties of a suspected individual even without his or her consent.

Previously, though bank deposits could be examined with a court order, this would not come without informing the depositor first.

Under the IRR, the court should act on AMLC’s application to examine or freeze a bank deposit account “within 24 hours from filing of the application.”

“The freeze order shall be effective for 20 days unless extended by the Court of Appeals upon motion by the AMLC,” the rules stated.

The IRR, dated Aug. 23, was signed by Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Governor Amando Tetangco Jr. as AMLC chairman, and Securities and Exchange Commission chairman Teresita Herbosa and Insurance Commission chief Emmanuel Dooc as members.

On Aug. 11, AMLC also published the IRR for RA 10168 or “The Terrorist Financing Prevention and Suppression Act of 2012” which was enacted simultaneously with RA No. 10167 on July 26.

“Both laws supplement each other in the fight against money laundering, terrorism and terrorism financing. Under said laws, terrorism and terrorism financing are predicate crimes to money laundering,” AMLC executive director Vicente Aquino said in a text message.