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Philippines: Amendment to Money Laundering Law to Include Casinos

(Aug. 25, 2017) In July 2017 the Philippine Anti-Money Laundering Act (AMLA) was amended to add casinos to the list of entities that are subject to its provisions, and thus certain gambling transactions must now be reported to government authorities. (Press Release, Duterte Signs Law Expanding AMLA Coverage to Include Casinos (July 19, 2017), Philippine News Agency website.)

The AMLA as amended now provides that single casino cash transactions that exceed PHP5 million (about US$97,200) must be reported to anti-money laundering authorities and may be frozen and investigated if probable cause exists to believe that such transactions are related to an unlawful activity. (Id.; Republic Act No. 10927, An Act Designating Casinos as Covered Persons Under Republic Act No. 9160, Otherwise Known as the “Anti-Money Laundering Act of 2001,” As Amended, Philippine Anti-Money Laundering Council website (July 25, 2016).)

According to a press release issued by the Philippine News Agency, the background of this amendment is as follows:

…, the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), a global anti-money laundering and anti-terrorism watchdog, called for the inclusion of casinos in the AMLA coverage to avoid the potential blacklisting of the Philippines.

This was after [a] Bangladesh bank heist in February 2016 exposed AMLA’s weakness in fighting money laundering in the country.

According to reports, part of the stolen money was coursed through the Philippines via the casino industry.

The investigations reached a dead end because the original AMLA left out casinos in the list of entities required to report suspicious transactions.

Lawmakers from both chambers of Congress both moved to pass the amended AMLA bill, saying that failure to do so would mean sanctions that would translate into higher cost of remittances for overseas Filipino workers. (Duterte Signs Law Expanding AMLA Coverage to Include Casinos, supra.)