Duterte signs law expanding AMLA coverage to include casinos

MANILA-- President Rodrigo Duterte has signed into law Republic Act No. 10927 placing casino operations under the coverage of the country's anti-money laundering law.

RA 10297 effectively amended RA No. 9160 also known as Anti-Money Laundering Act (AMLA) of 2001 to expand its coverage of persons and transactions.

Under the new law, casinos including Internet and ship-based casinos are now considered covered persons under AMLA.

The law defines casino as a business authorized by the appropriate government agency to engage in gaming operations.

Any single cash transaction in excess of PHP5 million or its equivalent in any other currency is also now considered covered transaction that must be reported to the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC).

As provided by AMLA, the council is tasked to monitor suspicious financial transactions in the country.

The law also authorizes the Court of Appeals to issue a 20-day freeze order on any monetary instrument or property suspected to be related to an unlawful activity.

During that period, the court will conduct a summary hearing to determine whether to lift or extend the freeze order. The total period of the freeze order shall not exceed six months.

Earlier, 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 the 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.

The Senate and the House of Representatives passed the bill on May 30 or before Congress went to recess in June.

Source: Philippine News Agency