PH inclusion in global dirty money watchlist to affect OFW remittances, economist warn

Hong Kong (AdChoiceTV News) — Overseas Filipino workers sending money back home may face more scrutiny after the Philippines slipped back to the Financial Action Task Force (FATF)’s gray list, an economist warned Friday.

Remittance Center — Lucky Plaza Singapore

“Because of the gray list thing, whenever they go to a remittance company outside the Philippines, they will be tagged as a high-risk customer,” Hong Kong base Filipino-Chinese businessman and Economist Robert Chan told AdChoiceTV News.

“Instead of just capturing five data points from that customer and requiring the presentation of one ID, that customer would be now required to submit additional data points and perhaps documents to prove financial capacity,” he added.

Chan said these could lead to higher operational costs for remittance companies, and make sending money home more expensive. The additional requirements could also cause delays in remittances, according to Indonesia-based fintech company Xendit.

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“When you’re thinking about a family that’s relying on receiving their remittances right away, even a five-day delay, a ten-day delay is really quite disastrous for the families’ cash flow in general,” Xendit president and chief executive officer Yang Yang Zhang said.

Last week, the FATF – a global watchdog protecting against ill-gotten money and criminal proceeds – released its list of jurisdictions under increased monitoring, which included the Philippines.

Chan told AdChoiceTV News that he even tried to use xoom.com to remit money to the Philippines but instead of the usual 3 to 5 days it took 18 days before it was posted and made available. He even tried to switch to remitly.com but its still the same.

‘One nation’ approach necessary

With its return to the FATF watchlist, the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) said all hands need to be on deck to pull the Philippines out of the gray list.

“It’s not only from the AMLC or from the supervisors but the entire bureaucracy. It has to deliver prosecutions; it has to implement our [Anti-]Terrorism Law, anti-terrorism financing laws, supervisory framework of supervisors,” AMLC executive director Mel Georgie Racela said.

“It’s an entire nation approach, a one-nation approach. We can only achieve this if we cooperate fully,” he added.

Bankers Association of the Philippines (BAP) president Wick Veloso supported this, saying a good monitoring and tracking system is key to weeding out dubious monetary movements.

Veloso assured the BAP’s commitment to working with the government on implementing measures to combat money laundering.

He also urged the public to always be “curious” and keep an eye out on suspicious transactions, and report them immediately so they can be addressed promptly.

Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Governor Benjamin Diokno earlier said the country is expected to exit the gray list upon the completion of all action plans “hopefully on or before” January 2023.

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Reporting by Ellen Chung, AdChoiceTV News Hong Kong.

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