RP avoids FATF blacklist, nears full complaint status, says Palace
Manila, Philippines – Malacañang said yesterday that the Philippines has escaped the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) blacklist of countries that do not cooperate in the fight against money laundering and terrorist financing, avoiding strict financial sanctions imposed on countries in the blacklist and called it a welcome development.
Malacanang said the country even received an upgraded status from the FATF of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and because of this, the government will continue to instigate financial reforms to reach the FATF full compliant status.
“(On Friday), the AMLC (AntiMoney Laundering Council) reported the FATF responded positively to the initiatives of the Philippine government to enhance its transparency and accountability mechanisms in financial transactions,“ deputy presidential spokeswoman Abigail Valte told government-run dzRB radio.
“(W)hile we recognize that more needs to be done to strengthen our existing antimoney laundering and anti-financial terrorism measures, we take the satisfaction expressed by the FATF as affirmation of institutional reforms that we have constantly advocated,“ she added.
Valte said Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Gov. Amando Tetangco Jr., chairman of the AMLC, informed President Benigno S. Aquino III about the upgrade.
Citing excerpts from Tetangco’s letter, Valte said the FATF “recognized“ the reforms instituted by the Philippine government by upgrading the Philippines from dark gray to its gray list.
Valte said the dark gray list includes territories that are not making sufficient progress, while the gray list “signifies we are making sufficient progress in addressing deficiencies in our action plans.“
“According to Governor Tetangco’s report, the FATF took notice of the passage of key legislative reforms certified as urgent by the President, in particular the bills he recently signed into law,“ she added.
Valte said the two bills are Republic Act (RA) 10167 or “An Act to Further Strengthen the AntiMoney Laundering Law,“ and RA 10168, “The Terrorism Financing Prevention and Suppression Act of 2012.“
“(The passage of the two bills) strengthened the capability of government to identify and prevent financial transactions related to illegal activities and those that undermine global security,“ she said.
“These reforms enabled the Philippines from being classified and downgraded to the “black list,“ which would have resulted in stricter inspections of financial transactions in the country, delayed remittances, and higher transaction fees,“ she added.
Valte admitted that more needs to be done to further strengthen anti-money laundering and antiterrorism financial measures. She however said the government seeks full compliance in its financial reforms.
“We are determined to be fully compliant with the standards set by the FATF not only in terms of financial reforms but because we also do not want to be tagged as an anti-money laundering haven or a terrorist haven,“ she said. “These are really stringent measures to make sure that we comply.“
Malacañang welcomed the conviction of Indonesian militant Umar Patek for helping build the massive car bomb used in the deadly 2002 Bali nightclub attacks that killed 202 people, including 88 Australians and seven Americans.
Valte said that Patek’s conviction is a big boost for the global anti-terrorism effort.
“That’s a welcome development. Anti-terrorism is a global effort and we are part of the countries which are fighting terrorism. This is good news especially to the victims of the Bali bombing,“ Valte said in an interview with government radio dzRB.
The Palace official said that Patek’s conviction will contirubute to the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ resolve against groups planning similar attacks in the country.
The 45-year-old militant known as “Demolition Man“ is a leading member of the al-Qaeda-linked network Jemaah Islamiyah which is operating in the Philippines.
(With reports from JC Bello Ruiz and http://www.gmanews.tv)