Sen. Richard Gordon of the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee has made some serious illicit transactions claims that may constitute a violation of Anti-Money Laundering Act. He claimed the committee has uncovered more than US$ 633 million in cash flown in by couriers through airports. This recent claim and findings have earned the Philippines an October-deadline by Financial Action Task Force to strengthen its AMLA, an action that could make the country be considered a threat to the international financial system if they fail to yield. Another claim made by Sen. Gordon was that they made a refusal of P20 million bribe offered by a Filipino family that smuggled P15 billion into the country as a bait to avoid the panel’s summon. This claim is said to warrant Sen. Gordon to bring the culprits to justice. Money laundering occurs when dirty cash is being injected into the system and being portrayed as legal money thereby hiding the true nature of the proceeds. Once deposited in banks, the laundered money could be used to pay for the land, buildings, shares of stock, or worse, to fund illegal drug dealings or terrorist activities.
There exists an illustration on how kidnappers deposit ransom received from their nefarious act into banks, thereby committing the act of kidnap which is punishable under Penal Code and also is another crime under the AMLA. The kidnappers are prosecuted and penalized separately from the money launderers. Moreover, additional malefactors could be prosecuted for money laundering only, like the bank officials who may not have participated in the kidnapping but who knew, or could have known, that the funds deposited were the ransom. However, not all laundering is illegal. It is illegal only when the proceeds come from the predicate crimes identified in the AMLA. These are kidnapping for ransom, drug trafficking and related offenses, graft and corruption, plunder, bribery, robbery and extortion, piracy, qualified theft, swindling, smuggling, violations of the Electronic Commerce Act of 2000, hijacking, destructive arson, violations of the Securities Regulation Code, terrorism as defined under RA 9372, terrorism financing plus other crimes defined under the Terrorism Financing Act of 2012, and other crimes under special laws.
Aside from banks, money can be laundered through foreign exchange dealers, pawnshops, money changers, remittance companies and similar entities supervised by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas; insurance companies, pre-need companies, and other companies supervised by the Insurance Commission; securities dealers, brokers, investment houses, mutual funds, and certain entities supervised by the Securities and Exchange Commission; and other entities listed in the law. Congress has been advised to heed the plea of Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III to include the proceeds of tax evasion under the AMLA and relax the bank secrecy law to fight money laundering and corruption more effectively.