The Philippines – The agency of the Government of the Philippines; AMLC, also known as the Anti-Money Laundering Council, has today expressed concerns about the risk of money laundering from gambling and gaming establishments from POGOs – Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators.
The Anti-Money Laundering Council is an agency designed to ‘protect the integrity and confidentiality of bank accounts and to ensure that the Philippines shall not be used as a money laundering site for the proceeds of any unlawful activity.’
However, following a risk assessment conducted by the council, the results showed that there was ‘an increasing level of threat’ in relation to money laundering and other fraudulent activities, particularly the high level of cash and cheque transactions.
A report from the AMLC stated:
“Transactions of internet-based casinos… reveal a significant level of use of cash, which is susceptible to money laundering, considering that the ultimate source and the beneficiary of the funds are difficult to determine.”
The report continued to explain why the findings were of such concern:
“Also, cash-based transactions tend to obscure the audit trail. There is also a high level of use of cheque-related transactions. Cash and cheque-based transactions are considered unusual as these deviate from the business framework operations of internet-based casinos.”
The Anti-Money Laundering Council is committed to investigating and tackling activities relating to gambling both offline and online. It states that it exists to ‘protect and preserve the integrity and confidentiality of bank accounts, ensure that the Philippines shall not be used as a money laundering site for proceeds of any unlawful activity and to extend cooperation in transnational investigation and prosecution of persons involved in money laundering activities’.
In light of the findings, the agency has highlighted a number of issues and flaws in how the gaming sector operates and is putting forward a series of recommendations of improvement to tighten checks and monitor activity and transactions more closely, including re-evaluating certificates and licenses of operation for Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators, an increased level of compliance and supervision along with regulatory assessments and reviewing enforcement powers regularly.
Reportedly, last year the Anti-Money Laundering Council ‘shut down around 200 Internet-based casinos and service providers, illegally servicing online gaming operations’.