Customs bureau says travelers declaring huge amounts of cash identified

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 01 2020 01:11 PM | Updated as of Mar 01 2020 04:43 PM

Customs bureau says travelers declaring huge amounts of cash identified 1
The Bureau of Customs on Sunday said it has "heightened its efforts to address influx of suspicious large amounts" of foreign currency into the country. ABS-CBN News/file

MANILA (UPDATE) - The Philippines' Customs bureau on Sunday said it has identified several groups of travelers declaring a huge amount of foreign currency upon entry in the country, as lawmakers flagged alleged money laundering activities.

The bureau added that it has "heightened its efforts to address influx of suspicious large amounts" of foreign currency and was coordinating with the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC), central bank, Congress and law enforcers.

"The Bureau of Customs vows to continuously intensify its efforts on border protection and prevent the illegal movements of illicit money or capital to and from the Philippines," it said in a statement.

"Several groups of passenger-couriers declaring huge amount of foreign currency have been identified by the BOC through its sustained monitoring efforts."

Sen. Richard Gordon and ACT-CIS Rep. Eric Go Yap over the weekend said foreigners, particularly Chinese nationals, have been bringing millions-worth of dollars in cash into the country since late last year.

The Philippines requires any person to declare any amount exceeding $10,000 (or its equivalent in other foreign currency) being brought into or out of the country, including its purpose.

Gordon said the foreigners had "money connections" in government, allowing them to bring large amounts of money into the country without being flagged.

Citing BOC records, Gordon said the cash brought in since December were declared by owners for "travel and casino" use, as well as for "investment."

The bureau can only seize undeclared amounts of cash, according to BOC spokesman Vincent Maronilla.

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"When they are not declared, anything in excess of $10,000 will then be put on hold by the Bureau of Customs pending clearance from the AMLC and the Bangko Snetral ng Pilipinas," he told ANC.

"Our role is limited to monitoring this influx of currency but because of the recent influx of incidents, our commissioner has ordered late last year an intensified campaign by way of monitoring and profiling passengers."