Press Release
June 6, 2012


The bicameral conference committee on Wednesday approved the consolidated version of SBN 3009 that will strengthen the existing Anti-Money Laundering Act (AMLA). The Senate is scheduled to ratify the measure today.

The measure, which Malacanang certified urgent, allows the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC), through the court, to inquire ex parte into bank accounts and investments of suspected money launderers and likewise allows it to inquire into related accounts.

"The bill allows an ex parte inquiry into the accounts of persons when there is probable cause that the funds therein are related to money laundering or an unlawful activity or a predicate crime. This is necessary in light of a lamentable decision of our Supreme Court which ruled that before the Anti-Money Laundering Council can look into an account, it would have to inform the concerned person: a de parte inquiry," Sen. Guingona said.

He added that as a result, once informed, many have resorted to emptying out their bank accounts before the government can inquire into them. "Logic and necessity demand that we allow for an ex parte inquiry," he added. The bicameral conference committee approved version dropped the Sandiganbayan and retained the Court of Appeals as the court that could issue a freeze order. The members of the committee adopted the Senate version as their working draft.

Sen. Guingona, who advocated the passage of AMLA amendment measures in the Senate, explained the bill also empowers AMLC to inquire into not just the main account but also related accounts, defined as "shall refer to accounts, the funds and sources of which originated from and/or are materially linked to the monetary instrument(s) or property(ies) subject of the freeze order(s)."

"As the chairperson of an investigative committee, the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee, I have witnessed the usual scheme wherein funds that are unlawfully acquired or stolen from government are moved from one account to another, with the clear purpose of keeping it away from the reach of the authorities. People have laundered funds from their accounts to the accounts of their wives, brothers-in-law, drivers, and every conceivable person within their network," he lamented.

SBN 3009 imposes Constitutional protections to balance the need to suppress criminality and protecting the rights of individuals by imposing the need to establish probable cause before an inquiry order can be issued by the or the Court of Appeals.

Under the bill, the court should act on the petition to freeze the account within 24 hours from filing of the petition. Likewise, no court shall issue a temporary restraining order or a writ of injunction against any freeze order, except the Supreme Court.

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