Diokno confident of Jan. exit from FATF’s ‘gray list’

THE LOGO of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) is seen at the OECD headquarters in Paris, France,
Oct. 18, 2019. — REUTERS

BANGKO SENTRAL ng Pilipinas (BSP) Governor Benjamin E. Diokno expressed confidence the Philippines would leave the Financial Action Task Force’s (FATF) “gray list” of jurisdictions subjected to increased monitoring for “dirty money” risks by January.

The global financial crime watchdog kept the Philippines on its gray list last week, citing the need to further strengthen its action plan to address “strategic deficiencies.”

Mr. Diokno told reporters on Monday the FATF had given the Philippines until January to comply with 18 action plan items identified by the International Co-operation Review Group (ICRG).

“We are taking steps until January 2023 because there will be a change in administration, so delivery may be affected. So, we’re still on that list, but it’s not damaging to our trade,” he said. “We still have six months to go.”

Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) Secretariat Executive Director Mel Georgie B. Racela said in a Viber message the Philippines has complied with five action plan items, leaving 13 more to be addressed.

“The ICRG action plan does not require any legislative action from the Philippines. This means that the country’s laws are generally compliant with the requirements of the FATF. The ICRG action plan’s focus is on how the country is effectively implementing its AML/CFT (anti-money laundering/combating the financing of terrorism) laws and regulations,” he said.

The FATF said the Philippines should continue to show there is effective risk-based supervision of designated nonfinancial businesses and professions, and demonstrate that supervisors are using AML/CFT controls to lessen risks associated with casino junkets.

The country should boost and streamline law enforcement agencies’ access to beneficial owners’ information and demonstrate increased use of financial intelligence, the FATF said.

The Philippines should also investigate and prosecute of money laundering and terrorist financing cases, it added.

The watchdog also said the country should take proper measures for the nonprofit organization sector, as well as improve the effectiveness of targeted financial sanctions framework for terrorist and proliferation financing.

“The AMLC will continue pushing for a ‘One Nation Approach’ to exit the gray list. This includes apprising the incoming administration of the roles of the agencies concerned; and convening the new National AML/CFT Coordinating Committee (NACC) for the monitoring of the implementation of the action plan items,” Mr. Racela said.

The NACC, which will oversee the implementation of the National AML/CFT Strategy (NACS), is composed of the BSP, Insurance Commission, Securities and Exchange Commission, Department of Finance and Department of National Defense, among other agencies.

“It shall be under the ambit of the NACS that the relevant Philippine authorities will continue to work together in strengthening the country’s AML/CFT measures and to show progress towards effectiveness,” Mr. Racela said.

He also urged law enforcement and government agencies, and covered persons to demonstrate effectiveness to address the action plan items.

The country in June 2021 was once again included in the FATF gray list. While the FATF did not call for enhanced due diligence for transactions, the government earlier said some Philippine-related transactions have been subjected to more scrutiny. — K.B.Ta-asan

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