President Duterte has signed into law the inclusion of casino operators in the coverage of Republic Act (RA) 10927, or the Anti-Money Laundering Act (Amla).
Unanimously approved by the House of Representatives and Senate, Duterte enacted the amendments to RA 10927, which now includes casinos, Internet and ship-based gaming sites with respect to their casino-cash transactions related to their gaming operations.
“A single casino-cash transaction involving an amount in excess of P5 million or its equivalent in any other currency” is now covered for scrutiny by the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC).
Under the law, the Court of Appeals (CA) may issue a 20-day freeze order against a suspected unlawful activity of a monetary instrument or property. It added the CA should hold a summary hearing, with notice to the parties, to determine whether to modify or lift the freeze order.
“The total period of the freeze order issued by the Court of Appeals under this provision shall not exceed six months,” the amended RA 10927 read.
The expanded Amla will be presented to the Asia-Pacific Group and the Financial Action Task Force, international watchdogs tracking money-laundering activities. Sen. Francis G. Escudero, chairman of the Committee on Banks and Financial Institutions, said the coverage of the AMLC will be “more comprehensive” under the revised Amla.
The inclusion of casino operators in the coverage of RA 10927 is one of the 17 priority measures of the Duterte administration.
Under the law, casino refers to a business authorized by the appropriate government agency to engage in gaming operations. On the other hand, an Internet-based casino is a gaming site in which players make use of remote communication facilities, such as, but not limited to, Internet, telephone, television, radio or any kind of electronic or other technology for facilitating communication.
Central Bank Governor Nestor A. Espenilla Jr. welcomed the development, saying the law is crucial for the Philippines’s battle against dirty money.
“This is a very welcome development. It plugs a critical gap in our legal framework. It will significantly strengthen our ability to prevent the entry of illicit money into our economy,” Espenilla told reporters on Wednesday.
The governor also said the AMLC Secretariat is already in the process of building up its manpower, in line with the expanded scope.
Espenilla said the implementing rules and regulations (IRR) for the revised Amla is expected to be fast tracked and would be in place by year-end, at the latest. “The IRR will be developed in coordination with casino regulators notably Pagcor [Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp.].”