BSP eyes exit from global money laundering watchlist by January 2023

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, June 28) — In light of the country’s return to the global dirty money watchlist, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas says the Philippines measures are “not sufficient.”

”The Philippines needs time to implement them to demonstrate effectiveness of anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism financing measures,” said BSP Governor Benjamin Diokno on Monday.

The Financial Action Task Force (FATF) announced the Philippines’ inclusion to its “gray list” on Friday, marking its return after four years. This means the national government must turn in progress reports to the international dirty money watchdog thrice a year, with the first report to be made this September.

Both the central bank and Malacañang emphasized the country had not been slapped with sanctions yet despite the recent development.

Wala pong countermeasures imposed, so wala pa pong desisyon. Ibig sabihin lang nito, increased monitoring,” said Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque during his regular virtual briefing.

[Translation: No countermeasures have been imposed, meaning there’s no decision yet. This just means increased monitoring.]

Roque reiterated Manila’s vow to enforce its anti-money laundering action plans, which include the amendment or passage of anti-money laundering (AML) and counter-terrorism financing (CTF) laws and enhancement of the AML and CTF supervisory frameworks.

These also cover the reinforcement of money laundering and terrorism financing investigation and prosecution, along with campaigns increasing public awareness.

Sen. Grace Poe, one of the authors of the amended Anti-Money Laundering Act, meanwhile said that these action plans are “operational in nature” and do not “necessitate further action from the legislative.”

The lawmaker likewise noted that the Anti-Money Laundering Council confirmed that “positive and tangible” progress on the country’s mutual evaluation report in 2018 had been observed, which brought down the recommended 70 actions to the current 18 plans, which Diokno also pointed out.

“They will monitor our progress," Roque said. "So we have not been put under negative list. Pareho pa rin po tayo [We’re still the same] but they want to see further improvements.”

Poe likewise expressed trust in the AMLC and other agencies in resolving the law’s remaining deficiencies with the FATF’s deadlines. The BSP governor likewise emphasized that the country has been “working aggressively” to address them.

“The Philippines will be delisted from the ‘gray list’ upon successful completion of all action plans, hopefully on or before January 2023,” assured Diokno.