THE PHILIPPINES is looking to ramp up the prosecution of money laundering and terrorist financing cases, as it aims to exit the Financial Action Task Force’s (FATF) “gray list” by January 2024.

“We are moving heaven and earth… to get out of the gray list,” Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) Governor Eli M. Remolona, Jr. said in a Sept. 4 interview with BusinessWorld Editor-in-Chief Wilfredo G. Reyes.

Global financial crime watchdog FATF added the Philippines in its gray list of jurisdictions under increased monitoring for “dirty money” risks in June 2021.

As part of its efforts to exit the gray list, Mr. Remolona said the government needs to prosecute more cases of money laundering and terrorist financing.

“Basically, we need more prosecutions. We’ve done a lot of investigations. We’ve identified the potential respondents for prosecutions. I think that’s key for getting out of the gray list,” he added.   

In its last assessment in June, the FATF said the Philippines should continue to work on implementing action plans to address strategic deficiencies in its fight against money laundering. 

This includes demonstration of effective risk-based supervision of Designated Non-Financial Business and Professions and ensuring that supervisors use anti-money laundering/counter-terrorism financing (AML/CTF) tools to mitigate risks. 

The FATF said the Philippines should also streamline the access of law enforcement agencies to information related to beneficial ownership as well as demonstrate an increase in money laundering and terrorist financing investigations.     

“There are periodic discussions with the FATF. They don’t tell us exactly what we need to do. They kind of hint as to what we need to do,” he said.   

The country was included in the FATF’s black list in June 2000, but was removed in February 2005 after the passage of Republic Act No. 9180 or the Anti-Money Laundering Act in 2001 and the establishment of the Anti-Money Laundering Council in 2003. 

BusinessWorld’s one-on-one interview with Mr. Remolona will be streamed on the Facebook pages of BusinessWorld and The Philippine Star as well as the BusinessWorldTV YouTube page, at 11 a.m. today (Sept. 8). — K.B.Ta-asan