What’s this Legal Animal Called AMLA?

The public is glued to their TV sets, following the blow-by-blow coverage of the impeachment proceedings against Chief Justice Renato Corona in the Senate. The proceedings being legal in nature, new terms and concepts are being thrown around like pancakes. Recently, it’s the AMLA.

AMLA stands for the Anti-Money Laundering Act (Republic Act No. 9160, as amended by Republic Act No. 9194). The Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC, but called AMLAC by us on the ground) is created under R.A. 9160.

[Would you still have the same level of confidence in the banking system knowing big brother has liberal access to your bank accounts? Use the comment section below.]

Among the related issues in the testimony of Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales is the authority of the AMLC, which provided the document to the Ombudsman (according to Ombudsman Morales), to inquire into bank deposits. This would raise eyebrows among members of the public who don’t know the scope of the AMLC’s powers. With respect to the power to inquire into bank deposits, by way of summary:

  • As a rule, deposits and investments are confidential in nature pursuant to the provisions of Republic Act No. 1405, as amended, Republic Act No. 6426, as amended, Republic Act No. 8791.
  • However, notwithstanding these laws, the AMLC may inquire into or examine any particular deposit or investment with any banking institution or non-bank financial institution upon order of any competent court in cases of violation of the Anti-Money Laundering Act, when it has been established that there is probable cause that the deposits or investments are related to an unlawful activity or a money laundering offense.
  • No court order is required in the following unlawful activities: (a) Kidnapping for ransom under Article 267 of Act No. 3815, otherwise known as the Revised Penal Code, as amended; (b) Sections 4, 5, 6, 8, 9, 10, 12, 13, 14, 15, and 16 of Republic Act No. 9165, otherwise known as the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002; (c) Hijacking and other violations under Republic Act No. 6235; destructive arson and murder, as defined under the Revised Penal Code, as amended, including those perpetrated by terrorists against non-combatant persons and similar targets.

[See also: Overview of the Anti-Money Laundering Act]

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