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Philippine online gambling ops face new AML

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Philippine online gambling ops face new AML

Philippine-based online gambling operators will face tougher anti-money laundering (AML) requirements as the country aims to avoid being ‘gray-listed’ by global financial watchdogs.

Both bodies of the Philippine legislature approved a revised version of the country’s Anti-Money Laundering Act (AMLA) that includes Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGOs) and their service providers under the AMLA’s definition of ‘covered persons.’ 

AMLA, which was approved in 2001, was amended in 2017 to include the country’s land-based and online casino operators, as well as the casinos’ junket operator partners, under the covered persons definition. (Although critics expressed dismay at the high monetary threshold for reporting suspect transactions.)

But the amended bill didn’t cover the hundreds of POGO service providers, which was flagged as an area of concern by the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) last March. The AMLC also expressed concern over many POGOs’ lack of commitment to observing their new know-your-customer (KYC) requirements. 

The amendments give the AMLC the power to issue subpoenas to gambling operators and to conduct search and seizure efforts should companies prove unwilling to cooperate. The changes also include tax crimes as predicate offenses to money laundering. 

The revised AMLA still requires the signature of Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte to take effect. Duterte is expected to sign the revised bill to reduce the likelihood that the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) will make good on its threats to put the Philippines on its ‘gray list’ of jurisdictions deemed to be insufficiently committed to reducing money laundering activity. 

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