Philippines prompted to tighten junket controls as global AML watchdog increases monitoring

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Global money laundering and terrorist financing watchdog, the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), has named the Philippines as one of four jurisdictions added to its list of those subject to increased monitoring as the country works to strengthen its AML and CFT effectiveness.

The updated list, announced Friday, sees the Philippines join Malta, Haiti and South Sudan as new additions to the list, which purports to include nations actively working with the FATF to address strategic deficiencies in their regimes to counter money laundering.

According to details published by the FATF, the Philippines has this month committed to working with the watchdog on strengthening its AML/CTF regime, including demonstrating that supervisors are using AML/CFT controls to mitigate risks associated with casino junkets.

Another seven areas of interest were named by the FATF in relation to its work with the Philippines, although none relate directly to either casinos or the countrys online gaming industry. The Philippines is one of the very few jurisdictions in Asia to offer regulated online gambling via its Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGO) scheme.

The FATFs latest action comes after Philippine authorities earlier this year issued an edict requiring POGOs to register with the nations Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) or face being charged with money laundering offenses. That edict had followed an amendment to the Philippines Anti-Money Laundering Act as a result of pressure brought by the FATF requiring covered entities to report all cash transactions above a certain amount.

The amendment aimed to help the Philippines avoid sanctions from the FATF after being placed on a 12-month watchlist by the Asia Pacific Group on Money Laundering (APG).

The FATF said in Fridays update that since completing its Mutual Evaluation Report in 2019, the Philippines has made progress on a number of its MER recommended actions to improve technical compliance and effectiveness, including by addressing technical deficiencies on targeted financial sanctions.