Senator Richard “Dick” Gordon stood up against money laundering issues arising from the prevalence of Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGO) in the country.
Gordon pointed out that inordinate and suspiciously large amount of foreign currency, $470-million brought in by 47 individuals from September 2019 to February 2020 alone, without being flagged is an apparent scheme of money laundering being tolerated by authorities.
Republic Act No. 10365, or the Anti-Money Laundering Council Act, as amended, requires covered institutions or persons to report to AML Council within five days all covered transactions and AMLC prescribed period for suspicious transactions. POGOs are required to report suspicious transactions to the AMLC to prevent the growing online casino industry, catering mainly to Chinese players, from becoming a conduit for money laundering.
“It appears that the relevant authorities chose to turn a blind eye to the nefarious activities that come with the prevalence of POGO in our country in exchange for a few billions in tax revenue, or perhaps because of pastillas or any other form it may take. We have a report that one individual was able to bring in huge amounts 45 times. That is what I call done with impunity,” the senator said.
Gordon warned that money laundering is a threat to national security because it can be used to fund organized crimes, destabilize governments and erode the integrity of the nation’s financial institutions.
“This is very alarming. Hindi natin alam saan talaga galing ang pera at saan dadalhin, ni hindi natin namomonitor kung nasaan ang mga taong ito. The fund could allow syndicates to thrive and perpetuate criminality, exposes the country to and provides fuel for terrorism drug dealers, terrorists, illegal arms dealers, human traffickers, smugglers, corrupt officials and others to operate and expand their criminal enterprises. In extreme cases, it can be used to fund armies or coup’d’etat that can lead to a take-over of government,” he said.
“It is also a threat to our economy because it can cause artificial inflation, often times dirty money is used to purchase real properties which will cause the value or price of these properties to increase by creating the illusion of a demand when there is none. It causes a decrease in productive employment by causing businesses to fail, hence workers lose their jobs,” Gordon added.