De Lima seeks compliance review with anti-money laundering law


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Opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima has filed a Senate resolution seeking to review how the Office of the Ombudsman and the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) have complied with the 2001 Anti-Money Laundering Law.

In filing Senate Resolution No. 666, De Lima underscored the need to see how these two agencies have complied with the anti-laundering law following the termination of the Ombudsman’s investigation on President Duterte’s alleged unexplained wealth.

“Duterte should never be exempted from investigation and accountability. Thus, the Senate leadership should ensure that the Ombudsman and the AMLC complied with the Anti-Money Laundering Act and the Ombudsman Act,” she said.

Last Nov. 29, the Ombudsman closed its investigation into the alleged bank transactions of President Duterte and his daughter, Davao City Mayor Sarah Duterte, due to supposed lack of evidence.

It confirmed on Feb. 15 that: “the fact-finding or field investigation on the complaints filed against the President (Duterte) was closed and terminated on 29 November 2017 after the Anti-Money Laundering Council declined to provide a report or confirmation on the requested vital data.”

Overall Deputy Ombudsman Arthur Carandang, however, had previously revealed that they have Duterte’s bank records from the AMLC, amounting to over ₱1 billion, but the Council refuted providing the said documents.

Last January, the Office of the President has ordered the suspension of Carandang whom it accused of allegedly divulging detailed information on the Ombudsman investigation involving the President’s bank records.

Under Section 15 (11) of Republic Act No. 6770, or the Ombudsman Act of 1989, states that the Office of the Ombudsman shall “investigate and initiate the proper action for the recovery of ill-gotten and/or unexplained wealth amassed after February 25, 1986 and the prosecution of the parties involved therein.”

Meanwhile, Section 7 (4) of the Anti-Money Laundering Act of 2001, as amended, provided that the AMLC is mandated “to cause the filing of complaints with the Department of Justice or the Ombudsman for the prosecution of money laundering offenses.”

“In short, it is expected that the ALMC and the Office of the Ombudsman would work hand in hand to seriously uncover the truth about the alleged ill-gotten wealth of any public officials, much less if it is the President of the Republic,” De Lima pointed out.

In filing the resolution, the former justice secretary also urged the Senate leadership to look into legislative measures on the mandatory and compulsory nature of the investigation of said cases.

“There is a need to strengthen the contempt powers of the Ombudsman over government officials mandated to assist it in said investigations, including the AMLC, and increasing penalties for the obstruction of Ombudsman and AMLC investigations on money-laundering activities and ill-gotten wealth of public officials,” she said.

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