The Philippines’ Presidential Office has issued a Memorandum Circular instructing key government agencies, including the gaming regulator PAGCOR, to conduct a comprehensive review and evaluation of their regulatory requirements.

This directive aims to ensure the country’s removal from the ‘gray list’ of nations categorized as having inadequate controls against money laundering and terrorism financing.

Signed by the president on October 16th, the Memorandum Circular underscores the critical and immediate implementation of the Philippines’ National AML, CTF, and Counter-Proliferation Financing Strategy 2023-2027.

This strategic plan was crafted in response to the country’s inclusion in the Financial Action Task Force’s gray list in June 2021 due to identified shortcomings.

At the time, the FATF highlighted areas requiring improvement, including the strengthening of AML/CTF controls related to casino junkets and enhanced information sharing among diverse financial institutions.

Currently, the Philippines is still under strict observation by FATF, which notes it still needs to strengthen the effectiveness of its AML/CFT regime.

The Philippines has been struggling to get off the international radar, as its lackluster compliance results have led to its continuance on the FATF gray list, despite neighboring countries being able to level up.

The FATF said that the nation still needs to demonstrate that supervisors are using AML/CFT controls to mitigate risks associated with casino junkets’, as well as adequate supervision of non-financial businesses and professions, among other issues.

Early this year, the FATF said that the nation continued progress across its action plan. However, all deadlines have now expired, and work remains. It urges the Philippines to address its strategic deficiencies as soon as possible.