THE ANTI-MONEY Laundering Council (AMLC) is confident that the Philippines can show it has made progress in implementing tighter anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism financing (AML/CTF) regulations in the country’s first report to the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) after it was placed on its “gray list” in June.

“In reference to our first progress report, we are confident that we will be able to get positive results as we have completed widest dissemination of the process of delisting and unfreezing. If the FATF confirms this in its October Plenary, our action plan items will be down to 17,” AMLC Executive Director Mel Georgie B. Racela said in a Viber message.

As part of the FATF’s gray list of jurisdictions under increased monitoring, the Philippines is required to submit progress reports on its implementation of AML/CTF measures. The first report is due next month, while the next ones are required to be passed in January and May 2022.

The FATF earlier said the country needs to implement 18 action plans in order to exit its gray list.

The country’s report will be evaluated by the Asia Pacific Joint Group assessor who will submit a final report for the consideration of the FATF Plenary.

Mr. Racela earlier said the Philippines’ first progress report to the FATF will focus on the issuance of guidelines for the delisting and unfreezing procedures for targeted financial sanctions related to proliferation financing of weapons of mass destruction. These were released by the AMLC in July.

Meanwhile, he said the Asia/Pacific Group’s (APG) assessment earlier this month, which moved the country to the enhanced follow-up list from the enhanced (expedited) classification, is a welcome development. He, however, noted that this classification refers to the country’s technical compliance with and not its implementation of AML/CTF measures.

“These reassessments pertain to our technical compliance so it does not affect our action plan items. However, these upgrades confirm that our legal framework has achieved an acceptable level of compliance with the FATF’s 40 recommendations,” Mr. Racela said, noting this makes the country mostly compliant with 35 out of the 40 recommendations under the Mutual Evaluation Report 2019 for the Philippines

The AMLC has earlier filed a request for a re-rating for six recommendations under the Mutual Evaluation Report in 2019.

The other recommendations on technical compliance will be addressed “in due time,” Mr. Racela said.

“Currently, all our resources are concentrated on meeting the 18 action plan items. Meeting these will ascertain our exit from the gray list, not the other technical compliances, so this [action plan items] is presently our top priority,” he said.

Countries that are part of the enhanced follow-up list also need to report to APG regarding their progress on strengthening the implementation of AML/CTF measures.

Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Governor and AMLC Chairman Benjamin E. Diokno has said they expect the country to exit the FATF’s gray list on or before January 2023. — L.W.T. Noble