Press Briefing

Press Briefing of Ms. Daphne Oseña-Paez with Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) Executive Director Atty. Matthew David

Event PCO Press Briefing with AMLC

MS. OSEÑA-PAEZ: Magandang umaga, Malacañang Press Corps and welcome sa ating press briefing ngayong araw, January 2, at Happy New Year sa inyong lahat.

During the sectoral meeting this morning led by President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr., the Anti-Money Laundering Council gave updates on the status of the Philippines in the financial action task force grey list. The country was placed under the FATF grey list in June 2021, and since then the Marcos administration has shown high-level political commitment to meeting the concerns of FATF by strengthening the effectiveness of the country’s anti-money laundering and combating terrorism financing system through EO in June of 2023.

At the meeting, the President gave a directive for the Anti-Money Laundering Council and concerned government agencies to ensure the implementation of action plans. And to give us more details on this, we have with us the AMLC Secretariat Executive Director, Atty. Matthew David. Good morning, Atty. David.

AMLC EXEC. DIR. ATTY. DAVID: Good morning, Daphne. Yes, I would like to confirm that during the sectoral meeting this morning with the President, the President has reiterated the government’s high-level political commitment and directed all government agencies concerned to swiftly address the remaining strategic deficiencies identified by the FATF in relation to the grey listing of the Philippines. The Philippines is aiming to address all these deficiencies within 2024 and to trigger the exit process from this FATF grey listing. All agencies have expressed, in fact during the meeting, their commitment to address the deficiencies in our implementing measures to strengthen our AMLCTF or Anti-Money Laundering Combating Terrorism Financing system in the Philippines and everybody believed, we are on the right track and the President has commended the work of different agencies of government.

The President also directed the agencies of the government to continue with their actions and to continuously sustain good coordination among themselves between the law enforcement and other government agencies.

MS. OSEÑA-PAEZ: Okay, thank you for that brief briefing. So we have any questions now from our audience? Katrina Domingo ABS-CBN.

KATRINA DOMINGO/ABS-CBN: Sir good morning. Sir, can you enumerate the deficiencies that the Philippines incurred since 2021?

AMLC EXEC. DIR. ATTY. DAVID: Yes. We have originally, in 2021 June, we had 18 recommended action plan items. But right now, we have a remaining of eight action plan items – remaining, that we have to address. Some of these action items – medyo marami po sila – some of these action items, I will just summarize in five.

One is regarding effective risk-based supervision of NFBPs. The NFBPs are designated Non-Financial Businesses and Professions that include lawyers, accountants, jewelry shops, casinos, real estate developers, and brokers among other NFPBs. And the one in charge of these action items is the AMLC for the NFBPs and the PAGCOR, it’s the casinos. And there is a need to increase the registration with the AMLC of these NFBPs. Kaya nga we are encouraging all lawyers, accountants, jewelry shops and real estate developers and brokers to register with AMLC and to perform their obligations as covered persons with AMLC.

For the other action item as regards sa AML/CTF controls to mitigate risk associated with casino junkets, and the one in charge of this is the PAGCOR. Casino AML/CTF regulators like PAGCOR should ensure that casinos are able to conduct customer due diligence on both, the operator, the junket operator and individual junket players. And of course, if the casino violates any of the rules and regulations of the AMLC and PAGCOR, they must impose or enforce penalties or enforcement actions on the casinos or the NFBP.

Another action item that we have to address in relation to the grey listing of the Philippines is regarding enhancing and streamlining of access to beneficial ownership information, tinatawag namin itong BO information, and taking steps to ensure that the BO information is accurate and up to date. The one in charge of this action item is the SEC. Corporations and legal persons under the SEC should increasingly submit BO information declarations with the SEC in compliance with SEC regulations. In fact, the SEC already issued regulations as regards the submission of BO information. And LEAs, our Law Enforcement Agencies, should request BO information from the SEC as regards their investigations.

Another action item is demonstrating an increase in the money laundering and terrorism financing investigations and prosecutions in line with the risk of the Philippines. The agencies involved with complying with or addressing this deficiency are the AMLC, the law enforcement agency including the Philippine National Police, the PDEA, NBI, NICA, ISAFP, DOJ, among other law enforcement agencies. Medyo mahaba-haba po itong listahan na ito pero what the FATF is looking for is that, we should increase our money laundering investigations as well as terrorism financing investigations and prosecution in line with our risk.

Another action item that includes at least two action items po, we should demonstrate, one action item lang pala ito. We should demonstrate that cross-border measures are applied to all main seaports and international airports in the country including the detection of false declaration of currency and confiscation action resulting therefrom with a particular focus on high-risk activities in line with the risk profile of the Philippines. The agency involved with complying or addressing this issue is the BOC, Bureau of Customs. Since the Bureau of Customs is the one requiring—assist or implementing the distribution of foreign currency and custom declaration in all our seaports, international seaports, and airports.
And they must also not only distribute this foreign currency declaration form but also, they must show that there are increased detection of false declarations and make the necessary corresponding confiscation actions. Those are the most important action items that the Philippines should address in order for us to eventually exit the FATF grey list.

KATRINA DOMINGO/ABS-CBN: Just a follow-up question, sir. I understand that the deadline to comply or to resolve all these issues was last January 2023. What were the hurdles that block or hinder the Philippines in complying with all these requirements and how do you actually hurdle those blockades?

AMLC EXEC. DIR. ATTY. DAVID: Of course, the hurdles as I mentioned are the eight action items remaining that are yet to be addressed. The FATF gives us ratings for each action item and most of these actions, remaining eight action items, are still partly addressed and one is not yet properly addressed. And the most challenging action item is regarding terrorism financing prosecution. We need to file more terrorism financing cases and the ones in charge of complying with these action items are the law enforcement agencies including the AMLC.

MARICEL HALILI/TV 5: Hi, sir, magandang umaga po. Sir, why is it important for us to address these deficiencies of FATF? Ano ba iyong magiging epekto nito if hindi natin siya na-meet?

AMLC EXEC. DIR. ATTY. DAVID: Yes, our goal is to eventually exit the grey list. There are repercussions for being on the grey list because the longer we are on the grey list, the bigger the possibility or the higher the risk that we will enter the blacklist. Of course, we don’t want to be in the blacklisted jurisdiction. And if we will be on the blacklisted list, there are repercussions to that and one of the repercussions is the effect on our transactions of our OFWs. Our OFWs usually send remittances to their families here in the Philippines, if we will be blacklisted – we are not yet blacklisted, we are still on the grey list right now – the FATF will impose countermeasures on the Philippines and international financial transactions of Filipinos abroad. That is, for example as to remittances of the OFWs, there will be an increase in cost; more requirements, stringent requirements, or sometimes the risking or sometimes the transactions may be denied or disapproved. We do not want that to happen, so all government agencies are aiming to address those deficiencies, eight remaining action item plans, and eventually exit the grey list this year, 2024.

EDEN SANTOS/NET 25: Hello po, Attorney, good morning. Doon po sa funding terrorism, mayroon po ba tayong mga information, mga intel report na may mga pumapasok po sa Pilipinas na mga pondo from other countries para po pondohan iyong terror act dito, mayroon ba?

AMLC EXEC. DIR. ATTY. DAVID: For intelligence information, confidential pa po iyon. But we have already filed cases for terrorism financing which are now pending in court. We cannot disclose the details of those cases, but there are typologies, perhaps in general, based on those investigations we have been receiving reports and based on the investigation reports of our investigators that some funds are coming from abroad, from different countries and then they are being used for terrorism financing here in the Philippines.

EDEN SANTOS/NET 25: Ano pong grupo iyong pinopondohan dito sa Pilipinas?

AMLC EXEC. DIR. ATTY. DAVID: These are now pending in court. I am not at liberty to disclose the details yet, because sub judice pa po itong mga ito. But, there are organizations, NGOs, and designated terrorist organizations that are receiving these funds from abroad po.

EDEN SANTOS/NET 25-DZEC: So, ibig sabihin po ay talagang may mga terrorists dito sa Pilipinas?

AMLC EXEC. DIR. ATTY DAVID: Regarding the terrorists po, they are declared or designated terrorist individuals/organizations by the ATC. Sila po ang nagdi-designate po ng mga terorista whether individuals iyan or organization. And the ATC has a list in their website of these terrorist individuals and organizations po.

EDEN SANTOS / NET 25-DZEC: Mga ilan po iyon, ilang kaso at ilang grupo iyong involved doon and then kailan po nag-start iyong investigation, iyong filing ng cases? Kasi kung nalagay tayo sa grey list po ng FATF, ibig sabihin medyo mabagal iyong ating ginagawang investigation?

MS. OSEÑA-PAEZ: Eden, the terrorism issues would be addressed not by the AMLC. Also, maybe you could give us brief background on why we were placed in the grey list in 2021?

AMLC EXEC. DIR. ATTY DAVID: We were placed in the grey list in June 2021 by the FATF. Before the 2021, we have a mutual evaluation. Mutual evaluation was conducted in the Philippines regarding our AML/CTF system – as mentioned by Daphne a while ago, this is anti-money laundering/counter-terrorism financing system in the Philippines – there is a technical compliance and there is effectiveness compliance.

In technical compliance po, this is as regard the laws and regulations that we need to pass or implement in the Philippines. Pasado na po tayo sa technical compliance, iyong mga batas po natin na napasa noong time na iyon ay iyong Anti- Terrorism Act, amendments po sa Anti-Money Laundering Act as amended among other rules and regulations and laws. Pasado na po tayo sa technical compliance.

Ngayon, the FATF gave us 18 recommended action items which we should address. 18 po, as I mentioned a while ago, to measure and assess the effectiveness of the rules and regulations and the laws that we passed. Right now we have 8, as I mentioned a while ago, sinummarize (summarized) ko po iyon, iyong 8 action items po na iyon. That’s the history of the grey listing of the Philippines.

And in June 2021, the FATF found that we have still strategic deficiencies out of the 18 recommended action item plans that we have to address. Ngayon po we have complied 10 out of the 18. Katulad ng sinabi ko, may walo na lang po tayong kailangang i-address.

MS. OSEÑA-PAEZ: Okay, any question? Jean Mangaluz,

JEAN MANGALUZ/ INQUIRER.NET: Hi sir. So, sa MC 37 nakalagay na kailangan ay makalabas tayo by—ma-address iyong 8 actions points by January 2024 and now it’s for the entire 2024, so it’s keeps moving? Ano po iyong deadliest deadline na binigay ng FATF for us to exit bago tayo ma-blacklist?

AMLC EXEC. DIR. ATTY DAVID: Yes, the deadline given by FATF was January 2023, it was last year already and it was not extended. However, since we already did not meet the deadline of January 2023, we’re still in the grey list. And our aim, the aim of the government is to exit grey list this January 2024. That was a self-imposed deadline, but we are still hopeful that we will exit the grey list this year, 2024.

JEAN MANGALUZ/ INQUIRER.NET: How do we know if there’s a timeframe before we entire the blacklist?

AMLC EXEC. DIR. ATTY DAVID: There is no timeframe because you know the FATF doesn’t give a timeframe whether we will exit the grey list or whether we will enter the blacklist, the FATF doesn’t do that. Rest assured that all government agencies in charge on addressing all strategic deficiencies, 8 remaining strategic deficiencies are doing everything they can to complete the action items and for us, the Philippines, to eventually exit the grey list.

MS. OSEÑA-PAEZ: Ivan Mayrina, GMA-7.

IVAN MAYRINA/ GMA-7: Attorney, good morning. If I may backtrack a bit, can you just please explain to us what the listings mean? Kapag blacklisted ka ba, does that mean you’re money laundering haven? And if you’re in the grey list you’re a few degrees lower than that? Please explain it to us.

AMLC EXEC. DIR. ATTY DAVID: When you are in the blacklist, it just means that the FATF thinks that you have several strategic deficiencies that you haven’t address yet regarding AML or Anti-Money Laundering/Counter Terrorism Financing system. That’s why they given us a recommended actions; if we don’t complete or address our strategic deficiencies, we will eventually enter the blacklist. And perhaps you already know kung sino-sino iyong mga nasa blacklist, it’s already a public – iyong Iran, iyong North Korea and also recently, Myanmar. Iyan po ang nasa blacklist.

And if you are in the blacklist, as I mentioned a while ago, iyong counter measures will already kick in and this is being imposed by the FATF. The jurisdictions within the FATF will be expected to conduct enhance due diligence over the financial transaction of our nationals and those link with the Philippines if we enter the blacklist. And one of the repercussions is that, as I mentioned a while ago, iyong OFW natin ay maapektuhan mga transaction nila; it’s either higher cost, more requirements, documentary requirements and sometimes they’re risking or their transaction will be disapproved, iyan po ang repercussion ng blacklisting.

We’re not yet on that list, we’re still on the grey list.

IVAN MAYRINA/ GMA-7: But being on the grey list does that affect our status as an investment destination or the credit rating?

AMLC EXEC. DIR. ATTY DAVID: Yes, it’s basically there’s already a reputational risk on the Philippines particularly on the economy. It may affect our credit rating. As you very well know, ang World Bank and even the IMF is looking into also the status of the Philippines regarding the grey list. Also, it might also affect foreign direct investment in the Philippines because if you don’t exit the grey list they might think that our AML/CTF system is not adequate enough or sufficient enough or strong enough as regards money laundering and terrorism financing.

IVAN MAYRINA/ GMA-7: Thank you.

MS. OSEÑA-PAEZ: Eden Santos, again

EDEN SANTOS / NET 25-DZEC: Attorney, doon lang po sa anong action plan na gagawin natin para iyong mga possible na mga terror funds ay hindi po makapasok sa Pilipinas?

AMLC EXEC. DIR. ATTY DAVID: Yes, we have three action items regarding terrorism financing. Nabanggit ko nga kanina, mayroon tayong action item on terrorism financing identification; it means that the law enforcement agencies and also the AMLC will have to identity kung sino iyong mga persons of interest or possible terrorist or terrorism financers. Pangalawa, the law enforcement agencies also should investigate terrorism financing and also eventually, after investigation they should prosecute and file cases for terrorism financing.

Three action items po ito na we need or the law enforcement agencies will have to address eventually as part of our goal to exit the grey list.

MS. OSEÑA-PAEZ: Last question, Jean Mangaluz.

JEAN MANGALUZ/ INQUIRER.NET: Attorney, do you have the number of convictions of money-laundering here in the Philippines, kasi the last one here says its 55?

AMLC EXEC. DIR. ATTY DAVID: Right now, I don’t have the figures right now but there are already several money laundering cases, and conviction for money laundering cases. And also, we have also have convictions for terrorism financing also, recently.

MS. OSEÑA-PAEZ: Okay, Anne Soberano, Bombo Radyo

ANNE SOBERANO /BOMBO RADYO: Attorney, ask ko lang may na-monitor ba ang AMLC this year na may pumasok na terror funds dito sa Pilipinas? Thank you.

AMLC EXEC. DIR. ATTY DAVID: I believe po, I cannot answer that questioned yet because any intelligence information po is confidential po with the AMLC, kasi doon po sa Anti-Money Laundering Act, any information that comes into our possession by virtue of our office is confidential until we file the necessary case po, regarding…

ANNE SOBERANO/BOMBO RADYO: Pero may intel report, may intel report po kayong natanggap? Iyon na lang po

AMLC EXEC. DIR. ATTY DAVID: Right now, wala po kaming—wala po akong natatandaan, na-receive naming report na may terrorism financing funds na pumapasok sa Pilipinas.

MS. OSEÑA-PAEZ: Okay, I think we can end our press briefing here. Thank you so much, Attorney David, and thank you Malacañang Press Corps and Happy New Year again, thank you.