Philippine AML Watchdog Floats Joint Transactions Monitor

June 13, 2022
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The Philippine Anti-Money Laundering Council has called on gambling regulator PAGCOR to jointly monitor and trace traveller funds after the former identified casino gambling as the top reason for bringing foreign currencies exceeding $10,000 into the country.

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The Philippine Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) has called on gambling regulator PAGCOR to jointly monitor and trace traveller funds after the former identified casino gambling as the top reason for bringing foreign currencies exceeding $10,000 into the country.

An AMLC study dated April 2022 but released online last week found that casino gambling topped a list of 14 categories of purpose for inbound cash use between 2015 and the third quarter of 2021, comfortably ahead of “living expenses” and far ahead of business and asset management.

Casino gambling amounted to 729 out of 2,322, or approaching one third, of foreign exchange declarations for amounts carried in excess of $10,000, it said.

Foreign casino gambling also accounted for the third-largest number of outbound declarations, although the number accounted for 270 out of 2,737, or just under 10 percent, of declarations, with casino winnings in the Philippines amounting to another 89 outbound declarations.

“For individual passengers, frequent inbound flows of foreign currencies to be used for casino gambling breeds suspicion that warrants further examination,” the report concluded.

“To avoid foreign currency-denominated funds declared for casino gambling to be used to finance unlawful activities, the AMLC and PAGCOR may consider building a joint framework to trace and monitor the ultimate destination of said funds.”

Concerns in government and global financial organisations over AML breaches in the local gambling industry have eased somewhat since casinos and online gambling operators were belatedly brought under the purview of AML legislation and a host of associated regulations.

But governance peer pressure continues to apply to the industry, with the Financial Action Task Force, the Asia/Pacific Group on Money Laundering, and most recently the International Monetary Fund (IMF) urging greater scrutiny and enforcement in the Philippine gambling ecosystem.

In a country report released this month, the IMF rated casinos, the wider gambling industry and the sometimes-affiliated cryptocurrency sector as a “medium” threat to Philippine financial credibility in a risk assessment matrix.

“International confidence could diminish from insufficient supervision and monitoring of casinos, the gaming industry, and cryptocurrency exchanges, which could be abused for financial crimes,” it said.

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