THE Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is backing the amendment of the Republic Act No. 1405 or the Secrecy of Bank Deposits Law to further strengthen its efforts against dirty money, tax evasion, and other financial crimes.

“Such provisions will lift a long-standing barrier to effective investigation and prosecution of financial crimes,” the corporate watchdog said.

The amendments under House Bill No. 8991 will empower the SEC, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, the Philippine Deposit Insurance Corp., the Anti-Money Laundering Council, the Department of Justice, and other courts to look into the deposits of supervised institutions or persons should there be reasonable grounds to do so.

The commission said the law has hampered investigations of the SEC.

“The Secrecy of Bank Deposits Law has limited the effectiveness of the SEC, for instance, to establish the owners of bank accounts used in cases of violations of the Republic Act No. 8799 or the Securities Regulation Code, Republic Act No. 11232 or the Revised Corporation Code of the Philippines, and other laws implemented by the commission,” the SEC said.

It has also prevented the commission from validating declared financial positions of companies “where there are ground to believe that there is an effort to conceal misconduct, corporate fraud or noncompliance with certain requirements.”

The SEC added that the amendments would lead to lower costs in cross-border transactions, as well as eased restrictions in investment and foreign currency inflows.

“[It would] keep the Philippines off the FATF (Financial Action Task Force) ‘grey list’ of jurisdictions under increased monitoring for high risks of money laundering and terrorist financing,” the commission said.

Meanwhile, the SEC is requiring newly covered financing companies, lending institutions, and those applying for a certificate of authority to operate as financers and lenders to create a “comprehensive and risk-based Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing Prevention Program” (MTPP).

In a notice published on its website, the commission said details of their programs should be submitted by June 21.

“Those who have not yet submitted their MTPPs, you are given until June 21, 2021 to submit your MTPP to the Anti-Money Laundering Division of the Enforcement and Investor Protection Department (AMLD-EIPD) of the commission,” the SEC said, adding that those who fail to comply will be subjected to penalties.

Covered firms are asked to submit their programs to using their official e-mail addresses, along with a copy of a board resolution or certification by their country/regional/area head or equivalent stating that they have approved of the MTPP.

The SEC’s AMLD-EIPD will send a confirmation once they have received a copy of the program. A physical copy of the MTPP and the required attachment is no longer needed.

Meanwhile, for those still applying for a certificate of authority to operate a financing company or lending company will need to present a sworn certification. It will be part of their documentary requirements for licensing.

Once their application for registration or licensing is greenlit, they will be required to submit a soft copy of their MTPP within 10 days after receiving a registration certification or a secondary license from the commission. — Keren Concepcion G. Valmonte