Philippines Remains on Financial Watchdog’s Radar for Financial-Crime Risk

The Philippines has been placed on the Financial Action Task Force’s (FATF) “grey list” of jurisdictions that require heightened surveillance in regard to financial-crime risk, according to a recent notification by the Paris-based organization. The decision was made during the FATF’s most recent plenary conference, noting concerns over the country’s anti-money laundering (AML) and counter-terrorism financing (CFT) framework. While the FATF recognizes considerable progress made by the Philippines since its entry on the list in June 2021, it has also identified areas that require additional work to address strategic shortcomings.

Despite taking steps to improve its AML/CFT framework, the FATF has advised the Philippines to make more meaningful efforts in key areas. The necessity for the country to demonstrate effective use of AML and CFT procedures to limit risks connected with gambling junkets is of particular significance. The FATF has urged the Philippines to speed up execution of its action plan, pointing out that all deadlines expire in January 2023.

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In January, the governor of the Philippine central bank said that the country has been granted a one-year extension, until January 2024, to fulfil the requisite financial standards and be removed from the FATF’s risk list. This extension provides the Philippines with an opportunity to rectify the identified strategic shortcomings and strengthen its AML/CFT controls within the term provided.

In an effort to combat money laundering and terrorist financing, the Philippines’ Securities and Exchange Commission has created a data-sharing agreement with several governmental organizations, including the country’s gaming authority. This collaboration intends to improve the effectiveness of AML controls. The decision was prompted by a study by the Philippines’ Anti-Money Laundering Council, which emphasized the need for tighter AML controls in the casino industry. The report specifically highlighted the junket system’s inherent vulnerability to money laundering and terrorism financing threats.

The FATF’s newest announcement emphasizes the importance of the Philippines addressing the highlighted strategic flaws in its AML/CFT framework as soon as possible. Because the deadlines have already gone, the country must move quickly to implement its action plan to reduce the dangers linked with financial crimes. The Philippines’ reputation as a financial center is dependent on its capacity to tackle money laundering and terrorism funding successfully, guaranteeing a safe and secure financial environment.

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