AMLC to draft bill relaxing bank secrecy
MANILA, Philippines – Insurance Commissioner Emmanuel Dooc said the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) will finalize a draft bill that seeks to relax the country's bank secrecy law in order to combat money laundering activities.
Dooc, who is also a member of the AMLC, said in a press briefing on Thursday, March 31, that there is a need to liberalize the bank secrecy law as it has become an "obstacle" in addressing money laundering offenses. (READ: How Bangladesh Bank dirty money easily got into PH)
"For instance, you have heard the bank secrecy law being invoked by the resource persons invited by the committee that frustrates [not only] the senators who are conducting the probe, but most of all, the public who wants to get into the bottom of this thing, including us, the AMLC," Dooc said. (READ: Network: Who's who in the RCBC anti-money laundering scam)
Dooc said that he has heard that President Benigno Aquino III is willing to certify the bill as urgent, although he said that there may be no longer enough time to pass the bill within this administration's term. (READ: How Bangladesh Bank dirty money easily got into PH)
"I think if there's any positive effect of this now, we have the sense of urgency to really review our relevant laws against money laundering," Dooc said.
"They should now give us opportunity to work together with all of those concerned, the congress, law enforcement authorities, AMLC, to really come up with an effective law that will truly afford us the power to combat money laundering and terrorist financing," he added.
The Insurance Commissioner said the country has to make the most of this, because if the international financial community will perceive the Philippines as not doing its homework, "the entire country will suffer."
Shortened reporting time
Dooc did not go into much details about the possible easing of the bank secrecy law, but he said that the AMLC would like to shorten the time required in the reporting of suspicious transactions.
"Now it is basically 10 days, so we would like to shorten that. Remember in this particular case, the deposit was received February 5, plus 10 days, the funds were already withdrawn even before the reports were made," Dooc said.
"We have the advantage of technology. You can use the email, the text, that is acceptable. We don't need that 10-day period," he added.
Dooc also said that there is a needed to strengthen the power to freeze suspicious accounts.
"We would like to be able to strengthen our authority to freeze accounts. Right now, by the time the freeze has taken effect, the account is already empty," Dooc said.
Dooc said that he is sure that stakeholders can come up with an agreement on the details regarding the proposal to relax the bank secrecy law, given the massive support and interest to fully strengthen the anti-money laundering regime.
"I think we can get a good response from all those concerned," Dooc said. – Rappler.com