Press Release
July 1, 2021

Poe asks AMLC to submit report on PH efforts to be off grey list

Sen. Grace Poe asked the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) to give the Senate a written report on the efforts and challenges it is facing in a bid to strike the Philippines off the Financial Action Task Force's (FATF) grey list.

"We expect a substantial update from the AMLC on the concrete steps and direction we are taking to ensure progress on our compliance," said Poe, chairperson of the Senate committee on banks, financial institutions and currencies.

The AMLC said that Congress did its part in resolving the technical deficiencies of the law by amending the Anti-Money Laundering Act (AMLA), sponsored by Poe. Passing the necessary amendments to the law is one of the requirements under the mutual evaluation report which was duly met.

Poe stressed that the AMLA reforms are vitally important in protecting the earnings of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs).

"We should not make it difficult for our OFWs to send hard-earned money to their loved ones. They must be spared of undue costs and delays in their remittances," Poe said.

"Higher remittance charges mean less sustenance for the families of OFWs, and a week of delay in receiving the money impacts on the ability of their dependents back home to make both ends meet," she said.

OFW remittances always step in to buoy the local economy even in the middle of the pandemic, Poe added.

According to the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP), total money sent by Filipino migrant workers from January to April this year reached $9.9 billion, higher by 4.8 percent than the $9.4 billion remittance inflows in the same period last year.

Earlier, the Paris-based anti-money laundering watchdog added the Philippines to its grey list or countries under increased monitoring.

Failure to implement enhanced due diligence measures could lead to higher interest rates and processing fees, as well as more layers of scrutiny from financial institutions, which could impact on the ordinary Filipinos, including OFWs in sending their remittances.

The inclusion in the list does not automatically subject the Philippines to countermeasures, the AMLC earlier said. However, the country needs to substantially comply with the needed reforms within a given time frame to avert the financial sanctions.

"The government must ensure that those who are earning lawfully and legally are not inconvenienced. We cannot afford to deal with more financial challenges as we reel from the brunt of the pandemic," Poe said. BSP Governor Benjamin Diokno, chairperson of the AMLC, earlier made a commitment to work with the FATF and the Asia Pacific Group toward the timely implementation of the action plans.

The country's financial intelligence unit vowed to resolve the remaining strategic deficiencies, which are down to 18 from 70, to be stricken off the grey list.

Poe said she expects the AMLC and concerned agencies to implement the needed reforms and demonstrate resolve in enforcing the country's strengthened anti-money laundering measure.

Diokno said that the Philippines will make a report to the FATF on its progress three times a year starting this September, optimistic that the country will be taken off the grey list after completion of all action plans in two years.

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