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Lenders’ suspicious transaction reports surge

Suspicious transactions reported by Philippine banks and other financial institutions have risen in the past eight years, and are expected to grow by 26% and 44% this year and in 2022, according to the country’s anti-laundering agency. 

These reports are expected to hit 1.2 million this year and 1.8 million in 2022 unless the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) does something about it, it said in a report. 

Suspicious transaction reports rose by 63% last year to 1.01 million from a year earlier as reports filed b by pawnshops more than doubled to 149,935, the council said. 

Money service businesses’ reports also almost tripled to 139,757 STRs in 2020, while electronic money issuers’ reports doubled to 144,294. 

The increase in reports filed by these industries alone hit 237,352 STRs in last year, which was more than the 143,457 increase filed by universal and commercial banks. 

Suspicious transaction reports involving crimes such as the online sexual exploitation of children surged by 40 times, the council said. 

Covered institutions reported fewer suspicious transaction reports at the start of the lockdown in March to May last year, but these started increasing again as quarantines were eased in June. — Isabel B. Celis 

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