There is a new bar for the Philippine Offshore Gambling Operators (POGOs) to explain if they want to remain in the country. Operators and their service providers must register with the Anti Money Laundering Council (AMLC) by 16 March 2021.
The provision comes as a result of an amendment to the 2001 Anti-Money Laundering Act (AMLA), which added the two sectors to the protected persons covered by the Act, as well as real estate developments and brokers. For an electronic reporting system, they must all register.
“These persons and entities are required to report covered and suspicious transactions to the AMLC within the period prescribed and for the threshold amount fixed by the law,” it said. Failure to register “would mean failure to electronically file covered and suspicious transaction reports with the AMLC, which is a money laundering offense per Sec. 4 of the AMLA.”
Violators with assets worth more than P50 billion ($1 billion) face a maximum penalty of P5 million ($1 million), while businesses with assets worth P10 million ($200,000) and below have to pay between P10,000 ($200) and P500,000 ($10,000) at most.
On January 29, 2021, President Rodrigo Duterte signed the law amending the AMLA. The Philippines had previously been on a grey money laundering list, and the latest reforms were seen as a way of improving investigations and returning to a weak international image.
An AMLC study explicitly called out gambling operators who cited them as a risk of money laundering.
Contract with PNP
The AMLC also announced a contract with the Philippine National Police (PNP) to help fight money laundering. Details on alleged criminals will be exchanged by the two organisations which will contribute to money laundering groups.
The expectation of such an initiative would be that this would be a negligible bar to clear for licensed POGOs, as anti-money laundering controls would have had to be enforced long ago by long-time players in the industry. The big question is whether this effort will have any effects on the crackdown by another name on the NOGO industry, or unlicensed POGOs, since they might be less likely to care how their sites are being used, and otherwise have become a thorn in the law enforcement side of the Philippines.