CENTRAL BANK REGISTRATION FOR MONEY CHANGERS MULLED

Manila, March 28, 2003 - The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) is
considering the possibility of requiring big money changers to register and
possibly secure a license to enable them to continue buying and selling
foreign currency.

In the wake of the recent gyrations in the peso-dollar exchange rate, the
BSP has been tightening the implementation of its foreign exchange trading
rules to discourage speculation, even going down to the level of money
changers that have so far been out of the scope of the central bank's
regulatory sphere.

According to the BSP, however, there is a need to at least monitor the
forex trading activities of big moneychanging corporations whose operations
have not been factored in the overall forex transactions.

BSP Deputy Governor Alberto V. Reyes told reporters that registration of
money changers was an option being considered by the Monetary Board
although he said no decision would be made until the BSP has fully assessed
the scale of their operations.

Money changers are not under the regulatory cover of the BSP but Reyes said
their forex transactions fall under an earlier circular that requires them
to report their daily transactions to the central bank.

"Since they are not banks, they are actually being regulated very loosely,"
Reyes admitted. "Right now, they are not required to register outside of
their corporate registration with the Securities and Exchange Commission."

Reyes also said that eventually, the Anti-Money Laundering Council would
also have to determine how it would deal with money changers since their
operations have been identified as one of the concerns of the Paris-based
Financial Action Task Force on Money Laundering (FATF).

"At this point, we have only begun identifying which ones are the major
players and finding out the extent of their forex transactions," Reyes
said. "We want to find out where they get their foreign currency, where
they put them and other basic information like this."

According to Reyes, the BSP would be ready with the initial batch of
letters directing big money changers to comply with the BSP's reportorial
requirements. However, he was quick to point out that the BSP's concern was
purely for monitoring purposes.

"We have already deregulated our foreign exchange policies," Reyes said.
"We only want to make it easier for us to monitor them."

Reyes said the BSP was preparing an initial listing of the major
moneychanging corporations that would be sent the initial batch of letters
directing them to comply with an earlier circular issued by the BSP. (By
Des Ferriols, Star)


Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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