THE ANTI-MONEY Laundering Council (AMLC) has indefinitely extended the registration period for newly covered entities following the amendments to the Anti-Money Laundering Act of 2001 (AMLA) as it tweaks its guidelines and considers proposals from industry players.

“Real estate brokers, real estate developers, offshore gaming operators (OGOs), and OGO-service providers may continue to register beyond March 16, 2021 without penalty,” AMLC Executive Director Mel Georgie B. Racela said in a Viber message.

“We received several valid proposals from the Professional Regulation Commission and industry associations, which we will consider to be included in the revised Anti-Money Laundering/Counter-Terrorism Financing Guidelines for Designated Non-Financial Businesses and Professions,” he added, noting they will include the new deadline for registration in the revised guidelines.

Mr. Racela said they have so far approved 337 applications for registration, of which 97% are real estate brokers and developers. Apart from this, he said they are also processing 771 applications, while 341 applications are pending due to deficiencies in requirements. There are around 30,000 real estate brokers and developers in the country, Mr. Racela said, citing data from the Professional Regulation Commission.

He noted that the AMLC has seen 3,000 real estate brokers attend its webinars for the industry following their inclusion as covered entities under the Republic Act No. 11521 which strengthened the AMLA.

“We intend to conduct 20 more webinars in the next few months to cover at least the majority of the 30,000 licensed real estate brokers,” Mr. Racela said.

Registration with the AMLC can be done online and is free of charge. AMLC rules state that failure to register to the reporting system within the one-month time frame could result in penalties ranging from P10,000 to a maximum of P5 million, depending on a covered entity’s asset size.

Meanwhile, Chamber of Real Estate and Builders’ Association National Chairman Charlie V. Gorayeb said industry players may face difficulties in complying with the new set of rules following the AMLA revisions. He said many of their members “have not yet discussed the regulations very closely and very seriously.”

“Our industry is the most regulated industry, we believe so. Another regulation will make it more difficult to follow especially during this kind of situation,” Mr. Gorayeb said in a phone call.

“Most of the developers are engaged in low-cost socialized housing, and what do you expect from these guys? They are not drug lords or drug dealers,” he added.

Members of the real estate industry are now included as AMLA covered entities in compliance with recommendations from the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) following findings that “dirty money” proceeds have been funneled to the sector in several Asian economies.

Real estate brokers and developers are mandated to report single cash transactions worth P7.5 million and above to the AMLC under the revisions to the AMLA.

While the Philippines has beaten the Feb. 1 deadline of the FATF by addressing technical compliance through the passage of RA 11521, the country still needs to prove its effective compliance by showing tangible progress in implementation. — Luz Wendy T. Noble