Philippines President Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. is taking steps to remove his country from the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) "grey list," a category for jurisdictions that are reportedly failing to prevent money laundering and terrorist financing activities. The FATF is an international body established in 1989 to set global standards for combatting illegal financial activities. While more than 200 countries have agreed to adhere to the FATF's safeguards against money laundering and terrorism financing, the Philippines is not among them.
In June, the FATF placed the Philippines on its "Increased Monitoring" list, often referred to as the "grey list." When a country is on this list, it is expected to address identified deficiencies swiftly to counter money laundering and terrorist financing.
In response, President Marcos has instructed 44 government agencies, including the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR), to adhere to FATF recommendations and enhance their scrutiny of large financial transactions.
PAGCOR is a state-owned entity responsible for regulating commercial casinos in Manila and the designated freeport zones, as well as operating Casino Filipino venues throughout the country.
President Marcos has specifically ordered PAGCOR and other government agencies to participate in the Philippines' Money Laundering/Terrorism Financing National Risk Assessment (ML/TF NRA). This assessment will be led by the Anti-Money Laundering Council.
The move to strengthen anti-money laundering measures comes in response to the Philippines' inclusion on the FATF's grey list and highlights the government's commitment to addressing identified deficiencies in its money laundering and terrorist financing safeguards.
Notably, the Philippines has been linked to high-profile cases involving casinos being used to facilitate money laundering, including the 2016 Bangladesh Bank heist, where hackers allegedly moved $81 million through the country's financial system.
In that case, illicit transactions passed through the Rizal Commercial Banking Corporation in the Philippines before being laundered through facilities, including the Bloomberry Resorts' Solaire Resort Casino in Manila's Entertainment City. Bangladesh is pursuing legal action to recover the stolen funds and has a lawsuit against RCBC, which is ongoing in the New York Supreme Court.
The Philippines' inclusion on the FATF's grey list underscores the government's focus on strengthening its anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism financing measures to improve its international standing in combating financial crimes and terrorism financing. President Marcos' recent actions demonstrate the commitment to addressing these deficiencies swiftly and effectively.
By fLEXI tEAM