AMLC to banks, financial institutions: Report suspicious transactions or face sanctions


The Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) on Wednesday reminded banks and other financial institutions of their responsibility to report suspicious transactions as it anticipates an influx of financial activities during the election period.

At the Laging Handa briefing, AMLC executive director Mel Georgie Racela said although banks, electronic money issuers, and other financial institutions cannot be penalized under the Omnibus Election Code if their platforms were used for vote-buying and vote-selling, they still have the responsibility to report suspicious transactions to the financial intelligence body.

“If very obvious na maraming red flag indicator ngunit hindi sila nag-analyze o nag-request ng additional information [from their customers], hindi sila nag-file ng suspicious transactions report sa AMLC, ito po ay pwedeng maging basehan para sila ay mai-impose-an ng both administrative sanction and criminal sanction,” Racela said.

(If it is very obvious that they have seen red flag indicators but still they did not analyze, request additional information, did not file suspicious transactions report to the AMLC, this can be a basis for them to be imposed with both administrative and criminal sanctions.)

The AMLC has listed several red flags to look out for that might be linked to vote-buying such as:

  •     Significant or large transactions occurring in a short period of time
  •     Unjustified large cash deposits and withdrawals
  •     Transactions seem to be inconsistent with the customer’s financial profile or declared business
  •     Unusual transactions or activities compared with normal everyday trade or dealings
  •     Structured cash deposits and money transfers

  •     Use of multiple accounts by a single transactor
  •     Use of several money service businesses to send funds

The advisory was issued “in anticipation of the influx of financial activities that usually occur during the election period, and to ensure that proceeds from unlawful activities are not laundered during the campaign period.”

Racela said that covered persons shall factor in the red flags the AMLC issued to other factors such as the locations of recipients and if they are of voting age and the frequency of transactions especially during the election day.

“Pwedeng maging ground for filing or submitting suspicious transactions report sa AMLC,” he said.

(These can be a ground for filing or submitting suspicious transactions report to the AMLC.)

Covered persons include banks, offshore banking units, trust entities, non-stock savings and loan associations, pawnshops, foreign exchange dealers, money changers, money remittance or transfer companies, electronic money issuers, and all other persons and entities supervised or regulated by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP), including their subsidiaries and affiliates.

Business activities supervised and regulated by the Insurance Commission and the Securities and Exchange Commission are also covered persons by the AMLC.

The Omnibus Election Code defines vote-buying as “any person who gives, offers or promises money or anything of value, gives or promises any office or employment, franchise or grant, public or private, or makes or offers to make an expenditure, directly or indirectly, or cause an expenditure to be made to any person, association, corporation, entity, or community in order to induce anyone or the public in general to vote for or against any candidate or withhold his vote in the election, or to vote for or against any aspirant for the nomination or choice of a candidate in a convention or similar selection process of a political party.”

Vote-selling, on the other hand, is defined as “any person, association, corporation, group or community who solicits or receives, directly or indirectly, any expenditure or promise of any office or employment, public or private, for any of the foregoing considerations.”—AOL, GMA News