Monday, February 11, 2013

Bill Amending Anti-Money Laundering Law

As the Senate proceeded to amend the bill amending the Anti-Money Laundering Law, eight senators, including Sen. Manny Villar, whose family is engaged in real estate business, voted Wednesday night to exclude real estate brokers from list of possible money launderers.

With an 8-3 vote, the senators voted in favor of Sen. Ralph Recto's amendment to delete the provision stated in paragraph 5 of Section 1 of the proposed Senate Bill 3123 or an act further strengthening the AMLA or Republic Act No. 9160.

"May I move to delete line 9 or paragraph 5 which states: real estate brokers," Recto moved.

Recto also moved to delete the provision 'buying and selling of real estate' but eventually agreed to a suggestion to just amend it to "buying and selling of real estate worth at least P25 million property."

In response, Villar took the podium and said: "I just would like to state for the record that our family is engaged in the real estate business."

In 2001, the AMLA was enacted into law to protect and preserve the integrity and confidentiality of bank accounts and to ensure that the Philippines shall not be used as a money laundering site for the proceeds of any unlawful activity.

Due to the global threat of terrorism, the Financial Action Task Force has asked the Philippines to pass amendments to the AMLA to avoid being blacklisted by other countries.

Last year, the Senate has passed two amendment bills to the law that President Benigno Aquino III signed into law.

The first was SB No. 3009 that allows Anti-Money Laundering Council to examine bank accounts and investments based on an ex parte application and allow courts other than the Court of Appeals to issue freeze orders.

On the other hand, SB 3127 or the Terrorism Financing Prevention and Suppression Act seeks to allow authorities to freeze terrorist funds and inquire into bank accounts even without a court order.

The SB 3123 aims to expand the list of entities required to report financial transactions to the AMLC to include casinos, dealers, pre-need companies, real estate agents, and trust and company providers, among others.

Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile proposed to delete casinos, including internet casinos from the coverage but the bill's sponsor Sen. Teofisto Guingona III objected and instead allowed Enrile to amend the provision.

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