Press Release
March 17, 2016


On the heels of the controversy surrounding the $81-million stolen funds from Bangladesh, leading presidential candidate Sen. Grace Poe wants casinos within the purview of the anti-money laundering law.

The stolen funds were coursed through different bank accounts in the Philippines and found their way to at least three local casinos, which the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC), despite being the country's main financial intelligence unit, cannot dig into due to limitations in the Anti-Money Laundering law.

"They're still part of the economy. I think that we should really consider that because, otherwise, everyone will just channel in a particular industry that is not covered by the bank disclosures," Poe said in an interview with the media after meeting with businessmen Wednesday.

Bangladesh Bank's account with the Federal Reserve Bank of New York was believed to have been stolen by hackers, slipped through alleged fake bank accounts with the Rizal Commercial Banking Corp. (RCBC), remitted into pesos, and then delivered to casino junket operators.

The Senate Blue Ribbon Committee conducted an investigation on the multi-million dollar bank heist but hit a snag when some resource persons invoked the country's Bank Secrecy Law, which Poe said must be lifted.

"It's not a question of whether we should lift the Bank Secrecy Law. It's a matter of when we're going to do it," Poe said.

Poe said the Philippines should be one with the international community in aiming for transparency through bank disclosures. The country's Bank Secrecy Law is viewed as among the strictest in the world.

"The trend now in the world is having bank disclosures, not bank secrecy. This is to prevent also the funneling of money down to terroristic activities, drug cartels, etc. We should be one with the international community in preventing such activities," she added.

However, Poe said safeguards must also be set to prevent politicians from taking advantage of bank disclosures to go after their rivals.

"We should not allow whoever is in the administration to use it to probably find ammunition against their opponents. So we should have very strict guidelines as to what the parameters are in enforcing bank disclosures," Poe said.

News Latest News Feed