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Casinos now covered by anti-money laundering law

By: Genalyn D. Kabiling

The government is flexing its legal muscle to combat dirty money that may pass through local casinos.

President Duterte has signed a new law placing casino operations under the coverage of the country’s anti-money laundering law to curb any illegal financial transactions.

The new Republic Act No. 10927 effectively amended RA No. 9160 also known as Anti-Money Laundering Act of 2001 to expand its coverage of persons and transactions.

Under the new law, casinos, including Internet and chip-based casinos, are now considered “covered persons” under AMLA. The law defines casino as a business authorized by the appropriate government agency to engage in gaming operations.

Any single cash transaction in excess of P5 million or equivalent in any other currency is also now be considered “covered transaction” that must be reported to the Anti-Money Laundering Council. The council, created by AMLA, is tasked to monitor suspicious financial transactions in the country.

The law has also authorized the Court of Appeals to issue a 20-day freeze order of any monetary instrument or property suspected to be related to an unlawful activity.

During that period, the court will conduct a summary hearing to determine whether to lift or extend the freeze order. The total period of the freeze order shall not exceed six months.

Lawmakers earlier pushed for the passage of the bill in a bid to plug the loopholes in the legal framework against money laundering and make it compliant with global standards.

In February last year, around $81 million stolen from Bangladesh found its way into the country. Most of the money was laundered through casinos in Manila and remains missing.