BSP NEEDS $4-MILLION TO BEEF UP MONEY LAUNDER DRIVE

Manila, July 24, 2003 By Des Ferriols (Star) The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) said yesterday it only has six months to get the $4 million that it needs to set up the surveillance system for the government’s anti-money laundering operations.

BSP governor Rafael Buenaventura disclosed that the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) needs the initial $4 million immediately to establish the financial database needed for the campaign to be effective.

Buenaventura said the government is pressing the US government to fund this initial amount, which represents about half of the $7.7 million total required by the AMLC.

The council is the Philippines’ anti-launder watchdog.

Buenaventura said funding is made even more critical and immediate by the official and formal request of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) for the Philippine government to fast-track the implementation plan of the country’s anti-money laundering law.

This implementation plan was the second step in the process of delisting from the FATF’s list of so-called non-cooperative countries and territories (NCCTs).

The FATF is made up of 31 industrialized nations, including the United States, European Union countries and Japan.

The Paris-based task force blacklists countries it judges are not doing enough to block the flow of dirty money around the world. Such a move hurts the flow of investments and funds into an offending country.

In the Philippines’ case, the remittances from seven million Filipino overseas workers — crucial to the nation’s economy — could be slowed because of stringent screening requirements.

Despite progress in legislation, the Philippines has remained on the FATF’s blacklist because the anti-launder law has yet to be implemented.

Buenaventura said timing is critical for setting up the required monitoring system if the Philippines wants to be removed from the NCCT list by June next year.

"The next step is implementing the plan but we need $4 million soon to fund the establishment of a data warehouse to catch bank errors," Buenaventura said.

Over the next five years, the AMLC would need a total of $7.7 million.

The BSP and the US Agency for International Development (USAID) have already agreed to cooperate for technical and training programs to strengthen bank regulatory oversight processes and capacity.


Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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