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Still in the gray

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The Philippines remains in the “gray list” of Paris-based watchdog Financial Action Task Force (FATF), which urged the country to “swiftly” plug the remaining holes in its defenses against money laundering.

Being in the gray list means the Philippines is still under “increased monitoring,” particularly in its progress in resolving within agreed timeframes some strategic deficiencies in its defenses against dirty money and terrorism financing, FATF said in a statement last weekend.

It explained that the Philippines failed because it has yet to demonstrate an “effective risk-based supervision” of nonfinancial sectors and professions deemed vulnerable to financial crimes. Examples of these susceptible entities – also known as Designated Non-Financial Businesses and Professions – include casinos, lawyers, accountants, and real estate agents, among others.

The FATF said that the Philippines still needs to show that regulators were using credible anti-money laundering and combating the financing of terrorism controls against risks from casino junkets.

This is a critical juncture for the government if it wants the country removed from the gray list by October 2024, as the FATF plenary meets in February, June, and October every year. We have supposedly been trying to extract ourselves from that list to no avail, as it makes government look good while at the same time so Filipinos won’t have to deal with the limitations and restrictions that come with their country being included in the list.

Whether or not we are finally successful in achieving that will depend on the political will and determination of the government agencies and officials involved, which will depend on how hard our leaders on the top push.*

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