AMLC chief hopeful for absolute lifting of bank secrecy law

MANILA — The head of the Philippines’ Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) favors the absolute lifting of the bank secrecy law to further thwart money laundering activities in the Philippines.

AMLC Executive Director Julia Bacay-Abad, during the Anti-Money Laundering Act of 2001 (AMLA) 101 briefing Tuesday, stressed that they have been pushing for the lifting of the bank secrecy law even before the case involving the crossborder laundering of the USD 81 million stolen from Bangladesh Bank (BB) last February came up.

“Absolute (lifting) will be better,” she said but admitted that they “will face an uphill battle” to achieve this.

Aside from the absolute lifting of the bank secrecy law, Abad said they have been strongly pushing for the inclusion of casinos and real estate brokers and agents from the AMLA as well as strengthening of the supervisory authority of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) over remittance companies.

These factors are considered as additional teeth for the country’s anti-money laundering law, amendment of which is now again an issue following the laundering of BB funds allegedly stolen from the central bank’s account with the Federal Bank of New York.

Abad said non-inclusion of casinos and real estate brokers under AMLA are the two main deficiencies of the law.

She added that absolute lifting of the bank secrecy law will not only aid the central bank in investigating suspicious transactions but also other agencies such as the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR), the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) as well as the banks. Joann Santiago/ PNA/ northboundasia.com