Philippines Aims to Exit Money Laundering List in 2024

AMLC Executive Director Matthew David. Photo from PCO
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The Philippines is determined to be removed from the money laundering “gray list” of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) this year, according to the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC). In a sectoral meeting in Malacañang, President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. directed all relevant agencies to address and resolve the issues leading to the country’s gray listing.

AMLC Executive Director Matthew David emphasized the government’s high-level political commitment to addressing the strategic deficiencies identified by the FATF. Although the original deadline set by FATF was January 2023, the Philippines was unable to meet it, resulting in the continuation of its gray list status. However, the country aims to exit the gray list by January 2024, a self-imposed deadline that reflects their determination to improve their anti-money laundering measures.

In 2021, the FATF placed the Philippines on the gray list, subjecting the country to increased monitoring to combat money laundering and terrorist financing. David stated that the Philippines intends to address all the identified deficiencies in 2024 to initiate the process of being removed from the FATF gray list. The country has already implemented 18 recommended action plans since June 2021 and currently has eight remaining items that need to be addressed.

To ensure progress, Marcos directed government agencies to maintain strong coordination with law enforcement agencies in addressing these concerns. The commitment of all agencies involved in strengthening the Anti-Money Laundering and Counterterrorism Financing (AMLCTF) system in the Philippines was expressed during the meeting.

The AMLC official expressed confidence that the country is on the right track to meet the FATF’s requirements. However, it is crucial to note that the Philippines will undergo another mutual evaluation in 2026, which will assess the country’s progress and compliance with international standards.

In July of last year, President Marcos issued Executive Order 33, which adopted the National Anti-Money Laundering, Counter-Terrorism Financing, and Counter-Proliferation Financing Strategy 2023-2027 (NACS). The NACS provides a harmonized approach to enhance the country’s mechanisms for an effective anti-money laundering and counterterrorism financing regime. The AMLC, as the lead agency of the NACS risk assessment working group, formulates and issues guidelines for implementation.

Remaining on the gray list has consequences for the Philippines, as it increases the risk of being blacklisted. The longer the country remains on the gray list, the higher the possibility of facing blacklisting, which could have negative implications for its credit rating. International organizations such as the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) are closely monitoring the Philippines’ status on the gray list.

Furthermore, being on the gray list may affect foreign direct investments in the country. Potential investors may perceive the AMLCTF system as inadequate or insufficient, raising concerns about money laundering and terrorism financing. Overseas Filipino workers may also face challenges with their transactions if the Philippines is subjected to countermeasures by the FATF.

In summary, the Philippines is actively working to address the deficiencies identified by the FATF and aims to exit the money laundering “gray list” by January 2024. The government’s commitment, coordination among agencies, and the adoption of the NACS demonstrate the country’s determination to strengthen its anti-money laundering and counterterrorism financing regime. By meeting the FATF’s requirements, the Philippines aims to enhance its reputation, attract foreign investments, and safeguard the integrity of its financial system.

Source: The Manila Times

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