THE ANTI-MONEY Laundering Council (AMLC) released amended rules to include new covered persons such as real estate developers and brokers as well as Philippine offshore gaming operators (POGOs) and service providers, reflecting the revisions to the country’s anti-money laundering law.

The amended Anti-Money Laundering (AML)/Counter-terrorism Financing (CTF) Guidelines for Designated Non-Financial Businesses and Professions will allow recently included covered persons to secure their certificate of registration from the AMLC within the next six months, without incurring any penalties.

Newly established entities that fall under the regulator’s expanded covered persons will now be required to register with AMLC before they can begin operations.

The new guidelines replace the previous regulation issued in 2018 for designated nonfinancial businesses and professions which only covered jewelry dealers; company service providers for corporations; and lawyers and accountants involved in transactions with corporations, businesses, and financial institutions.

The rules require covered persons to practice customer due diligence to prevent transactions with criminals and adopt appropriate AML/CTF risk management systems in accordance with existing laws and regulations. They should also fully cooperate with AMLC directives in relation to the fight against “dirty money” and terrorism financing.

Under the enhanced guidelines, cash transactions with real estate developers and brokers exceeding P7.5 million will be included among covered transactions of the AMLC.

This is in accordance with Republic Act 11521 legislated in January this year which tightened the country’s Anti-Money Laundering Act (AMLA) of 2001.

To secure a certificate of registration from the AMCL, one should submit a copy of business registration or permit; list of operating office locations; proof of attendance of officers in an AML seminar; and the most recent clearance of all officers of a covered nonfinancial institution from the National Bureau of Investigation or its equivalent foreign jurisdictions.

“The AMLC may deny the issuance of the certificate of registration or cancel a previously issued one if the designated nonfinancial business or professional fails to provide truthful, accurate and complete registration requirements,” it said.

The guidelines also included a new section which requires designated nonfinancial businesses and professions to promptly file suspicious transaction reports to the AMLC within five working days after an “occurrence.”

“For suspicious transactions, ‘occurrence’ shall refer to the date of establishment of suspicion or determination of the suspicious nature of the transaction,” AMLC said.

The Philippines beat a Feb. 1 deadline set by the Paris-based Financial Action Task Force (FATF) to tighten its guard against dirty money and terrorism financing with the legislation of the amendments to the AMLA. However, the country still needs to prove these tighter laws are being implemented.

An assessment by the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank in April warned that the country could still be back to the FATF’s “gray list” of countries with serious deficiencies on AML and CFT measures if the Philippines does not implement any major reforms by June 2021. — Luz Wendy T. Noble