By Luz Wendy T. Noble, Reporter

REAL ESTATE developers and brokers as well as Philippine offshore gaming operators (POGOs) and service providers are required to register with the electronic reporting system of the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) by mid-March.

This as POGOs and their service providers, and real estate developers and brokers are now covered persons under Republic Act (RA) No. 11521, which strengthened the Anti-Money Laundering Act of 2001.

As covered persons, they are now required to report all covered and suspicious transactions to the AMLC.

“If real estate developers and brokers do not submit certificates of [their] registration [with the AMLC], banks and other covered persons may refuse to open a bank account or to continue business relationships with them. The intention of this requirement is to avoid abuse of the Philippine financial system,” AMLC Executive Director Mel Georgie B. Racela said in a text message.

Registration with the AMLC’s system is done online and is free of charge.

AMLC said real estate developers, real estate brokers, as well as POGOs and their service providers, need to register by March 16, 2021.

“Failure to register would mean failure to electronically file covered and suspicious transaction reports with the AMLC, which is a money laundering offense per Section 4 of the AMLA, as amended,” it said.

Mr. Racela noted this is a criminal offense under the amended AMLA, which cites “extreme circumstances where there is clear intention not to report.”

Those who fail to register may also request an extension with the AMLC’s Compliance and Supervision Group, citing specific reasons, Mr. Racela said.

Employees of real estate developers and brokers do not need to register individually so long as their employers register with the AMLC.

“As of date, none has registered, but the AMLC has been receiving a lot of inquiries regarding the registration as well as requests for training and seminars from various real estate brokers’ associations,” Mr. Racela said.

Based on AMLC rules, failure to register with the electronic reporting system within the prescribed period is considered as a serious violation. Penalties will depend on a covered entity’s asset size: those with assets worth P10 million and below may pay P10,000 to a maximum of P500,000, while those with assets worth P50 billion and above may pay a maximum of P5 million.

Under RA 11521, entities regulated by the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. including POGOs and their service providers are required to report a single casino cash transaction equivalent to P5 million.

Meanwhile, real estate brokers and developers are mandated to report single cash transactions worth P7.5 million and above to the AMLC.

On Jan. 29, President Rodrigo R. Duterte signed RA No. 11521 into law in order to address gaps in its “dirty money” regulations ahead of the Feb. 1 deadline set by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF).

Regulations against terrorism financing were tightened through RA No. 11521 or the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020, which was enacted in July.

Mr. Racela last week said that while the country addressed technical compliance by passing legislation to prevent being “gray-listed” by the FATF, effective compliance still needs to be proven to the international watchdog.

“So anything we can add to demonstrate positive and tangible progress in implementing these laws (RA 11521 and RA 11479) before the submission may be included [in the post-observation period report],” Mr. Racela said, noting the report is due for submission “at least first week of April.”