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Moody's Analyst Foresees Philippines Exiting FATF Grey List Despite Money Laundering Challenges

The Philippines is poised to exit the "grey list" of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) soon, despite grappling with a notable incidence of money laundering, particularly within the gaming sector, according to insights shared by Moody's analyst Choon Hong Chua.


Moody's Analyst Foresees Philippines Exiting FATF Grey List Despite Money Laundering Challenges

Chua, who serves as Moody’s senior director and heads the Financial Crime Practice Group for Asia, the Pacific, and the Middle East, expressed confidence in the Philippines' progress towards exiting the gray list. He highlighted the nation's commitment to fortifying anti-money laundering and counter-financing of terrorism (AML/CFT) controls, noting the implementation of more rigorous requirements in this regard.


Moody's Grid database reveals that the Philippines consistently ranked among the top five countries in Southeast Asia for money laundering activity events between 2018 and 2023. During this period, there was a notable 45 percent increase in the number of money laundering events in the Philippines.


Chua underscored the prevalence of money laundering incidents in the country, particularly associated with gaming activities such as online gambling, casinos, and betting centers. Additionally, a significant portion of money laundering activity in the region is connected to organized crime and sophisticated scam operations, with some operations based in the Philippines.


Despite efforts, the Philippines has remained on the FATF's list of jurisdictions under heightened monitoring for illicit financial activities since June 2021. The country's appeal to be removed from the FATF grey list was not successful during the organization's recent plenary sessions in Paris on February 23rd.


Key concerns outlined by the FATF include the need for effective supervision of designated non-financial businesses and professions (DNFBPs) in the Philippines, encompassing sectors like casinos, real estate agents, lawyers, and accountants.


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Chua acknowledged proactive measures taken by the current regime to bolster AML competency in the banking sector, including the implementation of new regulations and active engagement with covered entities to address identified weaknesses.


The Philippine government has demonstrated its commitment to expeditiously addressing the issues contributing to its placement on the FATF grey list. President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr., has directed relevant government agencies to accelerate efforts in this regard, while the Anti-Money Laundering Council has pledged to intensify investigations and prosecutions related to illicit financial activities.


Chua stressed the importance of collaboration between the public and private sectors to facilitate the Philippines' removal from the grey list. He urged financial institutions and other private entities to allocate resources towards enhancing capabilities and engaging in anti-money laundering efforts.


Moreover, Chua proposed measures to strengthen the private sector's ability to combat money laundering, emphasizing the importance of bolstering third-party risk management capabilities to mitigate various risks effectively.

By fLEXI tEAM

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