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Philippines likely to exit FATF grey list despite gaming-linked money laundering: Moody’s

The Philippines is likely to exit the “grey list” of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) soon, despite a high incidence of money laundering, mainly in the gaming sector, says a Moody’s analyst.

Choon Hong Chua, Moody’s senior director and head of the Financial Crime Practice Group for Asia, the Pacific, and the Middle East, stated that the Philippines is “on track” to exit the gray list.

According to the report from BusinessWorld published on Monday, Chua said: “It is clear the country is committed to strengthening anti-money laundering and counter-financing of terrorism (AML/CFT) controls and has implemented more stringent requirements.”

According to Moody’s Grid database, from 2018 to 2023, the Philippines remained among the top five countries in Southeast Asia with money laundering activity events added over the five-year period.

Moody’s data show that between 2022 and 2023, the Philippines witnessed a 45 percent increase in the number of money laundering events.

Chua noted a “high incidence” of money laundering events in the country associated with gaming activities, including online gambling, casinos, and betting centers.

Besides these activities, a large proportion of money laundering activity in the region is also linked to organized crime and complex scam operations, some of which are set up in the Philippines, he added.

FATF, Grey List, Junkets, Philippines

The Philippines has remained on the FATF’s list of jurisdictions under heightened monitoring for illicit financial activities since June 2021.

The FATF Plenary, the organization’s governing body, typically convenes in February, June, and October.

In the last plenary sessions in Paris on February 23rd, the Philippines’ appeal to be removed from the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) grey list was unsuccessful.

According to the previous report by ABG, the Philippines has faced ongoing hurdles in its efforts to combat money laundering and terrorist financing.

Key areas of concern highlighted by the FATF include the need for the Philippines to demonstrate effective supervision of designated non-financial businesses and professions (DNFBPs), which encompass various sectors like casinos, real estate agents, lawyers, and accountants.

In this context, Chua, from Moody’s, highlighted the proactive measures taken by the current regime to enhance AML competency in the banking sector. This includes implementing new regulations and maintaining active communication with covered entities, addressing observed weaknesses.

He further emphasized the government’s continuous efforts to enforce stricter controls, reporting requirements, and compliance within the financial sector.

Earlier this year, Philippine President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr., directed all relevant government agencies to accelerate efforts aimed at swiftly removing the country from the grey list.

The Anti-Money Laundering Council also previously announced its commitment to intensifying investigations and prosecutions related to illicit financial activities this year.

FATF

Chua emphasized the role of the private sector in adhering promptly to the requirements to facilitate the Philippines’ exit from the grey list. This necessitates a joint effort and collaboration from both public and private stakeholders.

He considers that the private sector must also allocate resources to develop capabilities facilitating a transition towards a quicker, more streamlined, digitized system.

Financial institutions and the broader private sector are urged to actively engage in anti-money laundering endeavors.

Chua also proposed measures to enhance the private sector’s ability to combat money laundering activities, emphasizing the need to bolster third-party risk management capabilities to help institutions mitigate diverse risks.

Viviana Chan
Viviana Chanhttps://agbrief.com/
Viviana Chan is an editor, interpreter, and journalist. With over a decade of experience, she writes in English, Chinese, and Portuguese. Viviana started her career in Macau-based newspapers, where she became passionate about the region's social, financial, and cultural development. Her writing focuses on the economy, emerging industries, gaming development, political affairs, and cross cultural-exchange in the business and cultural domains. She is avid for news and eager to discover and cover stories that generate public relevance.

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