astern Samar Rep. Ben Evardone, who chairs the committee on banks and financial intermediaries, said his panel has “agreed in principle to endorse the inclusion of casinos in the law.”
“We have tasked a small group to consolidate three related bills. The only issue that remains to be resolved has to do with the threshold amount that would trigger the filing of a suspicion transaction report with the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC),” he said.
He said one proposal is to set such amount at P500,000, the same level of transaction that requires banks, insurance companies and other covered institutions to file a report. Another proposal is to fix the threshold amount at P5 million, he added.
Evardone pointed out that the House, in moving to include casinos in the coverage of AMLA, “aims to protect the gaming industry from illegal activities so it can grow and attract more gamers and investors”
Reps. Josephine Sato of Mindoro Occidental, Winston Castelo of Quezon City and Henry Oaminal of Misamis Occidental authored the three related bills that seek to amend Republic Act No. 9160, or the Anti-Money Laundering Law of 2001.
Sato said the February 2016 diversion of Bangladeshi funds by hackers to Rizal Commercial Banking Corp. (RCBC) and eventually to local casinos “exposed the vulnerability of these gaming establishments to illegal activities.”
“There is a need to amend the law to protect our casinos from money laundering by crime syndicates,” she said.
The Financial Action Task Force (FATF) has reiterated its recommendation for the inclusion of casinos in AMLA following the $81-million Bangladeshi cyber heist.
The huge amount was diverted by hackers to four bogus accounts in the Jupiter, Makati branch of RCBC. A large part of the money ended up with local casinos.
The AMLC is still tracing and trying to recover the stolen funds up to now. It has returned to Bangladesh about $15 million, which was surrendered by businessman Kim Wong, who brings in foreign gamblers to play in casinos here.
Wong has claimed that he did not know that the funds were stolen.