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Implementing rules of AMLA tweaks to be similar to statutory amendments

REVISIONS to the implementing rules and regulations (IRR) of the law strengthening the country’s anti-money laundering measures will follow key legislative amendments, Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) Executive Director Mel Georgie B. Racela said on Monday.

“The IRR amendments will be substantially similar to the statutory amendments in order to minimize any potential controversy and avoid further delays to its approval,” Mr. Racela said in a text message.

The reconciled version of House Bill No. 7904 and Senate Bill No. 1945 was approved by the Bicameral Conference Committee on Jan. 12, just weeks before the Feb. 1 deadline set by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) for the country to comply with its recommendations and avoid being gray-listed. The changes are meant to strengthen Republic Act (RA) No. 9160 or the Anti-Money Laundering Act (AMLA) of 2001.

Mr. Racela said the AMLC has been “taking parallel moves in the IRR draft to beat the deadline.” He added they have yet to receive the official enrolled bill version.

“The enrolled bill is still with Congress, particularly in the Senate from the last I heard,” he said.

The bicameral panel last week reconciled key differences in their earlier proposals and finalized covered transactions to include a P25-million threshold for tax crimes and a threshold for real estate single cash transactions in excess of P7.5 million.

Lawmakers also included a provision to allow the AMLC to apply for a subpoena through the court. Initially, the House proposed to grant the regulator power to issue subpoenas on its own, but this was not included in the Senate’s version.

Quirino Representative Junie E. Cua, who chairs the House Committee on Banks and Financial Intermediaries, previously said they adjusted provisions related to subpoenas in accordance with the Constitution.

“This is one of the amendments where the representatives of the Senate and the House of Representatives found a middle ground. So we will respect this outcome as it is a “better than nothing” version,” Mr. Racela said.

The Philippines has been under a FATF observation period since 2019 and needs to address the gaps in its measures against dirty money and terrorism financing to avoid the gray list. The country was removed from the gray list in February 2005 after its inclusion in 2000.

Legislators have warned that being deemed a jurisdiction with lax measures on anti-money-laundering and counter-terrorism financing could impact remittance and investments as transactions will have to undergo stricter scrutiny, higher fees, and longer processing.

Recommended improvements by the FATF on the country’s counter-terrorism financing measures have already been addressed through the controversial RA No. 1149 or the Anti-Terror Act of 2020. — Luz Wendy T. Noble

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