Philippines: Bank secrecy lifting pushed to avoid financial fraud
13 Jul 2020

To avoid a repeat of cross-border financial fraud that implicated local financial institutions, it’s time for Congress to ease the antiquated bank secrecy law while the government tightens enforcement against such crimes, Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III said.

Stephen Cutler, a security analyst and antimoney laundering consultant, noted that the Philippines seemed “to attract financial fraud,” citing the involvement of local banks in the Bangladesh Bank cyberheist in 2016 and the more recent controversies involving Australia’s Westpac and Germany’s Wirecard.

Cutler blamed the Philippine financial sector’s vulnerability to fraudulent activities to shortcomings in enforcement of regulators such as the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) and the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) as well as a weak whistleblower program covering crimes in the private sector.

Dominguez said this vulnerability could be addressed by focusing on enforcement—detection, prosecution and conviction.

Dominguez admitted that the SEC, for instance, had a poor record of law enforcement of financial fraud perpetrators.

“For example, [there were] no convictions of pyramid scheme operators,” Dominguez noted, even as the SEC had been going after these Ponzi schemes.Dominguez said he had discussed how to address this concern with the SEC.

By Ben O. de Vera, Philippine Daily Inquirer, 13 July 2020

Read more at Philippine Daily Inquirer

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