Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte signed a new law to boost the country’s anti money laundering and counter terrorist financing efforts ahead of a key deadline from the Financial Action Task Force (FATF).

Philippines had been given until 1 February to strengthen areas of its AML framework or risk being placed on the FATF ‘grey list’ which would mean it is under increased monitoring.

The country’s new AML and CTF regulations signed on Friday allows the Anti Money Laundering Council (AMLC) to impose targeted financial sanctions against the proliferation of weapons of mass destructions and financing.  It also allows the council to apply for court summons, and search and seizure warrants.

The law also states that the state shall extend cooperation in transnational investigations and prosecutions of people “wherever committed.”

The AMLC will also be able to scrutinise transactions involving Philippine-based online casino operators and real-estate firms and brokers engaging in single cash transactions worth more than $160,000.

Thee Philippines central bank, Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP), also last week published new guidelines for virtual asset service providers (VASPs) in a bid to prevent money laundering.

The BSP that under the framework VASPs will need to apply for a license, a “certificate of authority,” in order to operate as a money sending business. They will also need to align with the central bank’s existing rules for financial service providers in areas such as liquidity and operational risk, IT risk, internal controls, consumer protection and anti-money laundering.

A FATF mutual evaluation report for the Philippines published in October 2019 found deficiencies in the country’s framework for targeted financial sanctions and a lack of a framework for imposing sanctions related to the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.  

There are currently 16 countries on the FATF grey list; Albania the Bahamas, Barbados Botswana, Cambodia, Ghana, Jamaica, Mauritius, Myanmar, Nicaragua, Pakistan, Panama, Syria, Uganda, Yemen and Zimbabwe