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PDP-Laban BSP bet vows easing of bank secrecy rules

Updated

By Reuters

A contender to become the next Philippine central bank governor said on Friday he will push for the relaxation of the country’s bank secrecy law to facilitate the investigation of money laundering cases.

Antonio Moncupa, who has won the endorsement of President Duterte’s ruling PDP-Laban political party, said ensuring the effective execution of the anti-money laundering law is one of the issues he would focus on if he becomes the next central bank chief.

Antonio Moncupa (Facebook / MANILA BULLETIN)

Antonio Moncupa
(Facebook / MANILA BULLETIN)

The central bank governor heads the country’s anti-money laundering council. The current chief, Amando Tetangco, is due to step down in July, having completed the maximum of two terms.

The Philippines has moved to strengthen its anti-money laundering rules, aiming to plug loopholes that allowed $81 million stolen in one of the world’s biggest cyber heists to pass through Manila banks and casinos.

Duterte has also accused the anti-money laundering body of failing to support his war on drugs by tracking the flow of narcotics money.

Moncupa, currently president of mid-sized lender East West Banking Corp, said the central bank needed to give designated authorities “access to bank accounts so that the investigation could happen very fast”.

“Likewise, we need to review the process by which the authorities could act on suspicious accounts because right now we need a court order,” he said in an interview at ANC.

“Typically what happens when the court order comes (is) there’s no more money in the bank accounts.”

But while the Bank Secrecy Law has been a stumbling block to money laundering investigations in the country, Moncupa said authorities “still need to protect confidentiality and the privacy of law abiding citizens.”

Last month the central bank said it was tightening its surveillance of money-remittance firms to ensure they would not be used to launder dirty money and facilitate terrorist financing.

Moncupa said efforts to widen “financial inclusion”, keep foreign exchange rate stable, and ensure that the banking system is clean and inaccessible to criminals “continuously need improvement.”

Speculation over who will succeed Tetangco as head of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) has also centered on BSP deputy governors Diwa Guinigundo and Nestor Espenilla, former trade secretary and monetary board member Peter Favila, and Foreign Affairs Minister Perfecto Yasay.

Read more: Pimentel endorses banker as next BSP governor

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