Is There a New Doctrine on How Documents are Obtained from Anti-Money Laundering Council?

Anti-Money-laundering-councilIn an interview by the press yesterday, Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” R. Marcos Jr. noted that there are now several ways on how anonymous documents end up in the hands of the prosecution.

He said that the probe conducted by the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) on Chief Justice Renato C. Corona’s alleged secret dollar accounts violates the Anti-Money Laundering Act, Bank Secrecy Act, and the Foreign Currency Deposit Act, laws that provide protection to account holders or depositors. These laws require the formal consent of the depositor to have a bank account opened for investigation.

Under Section 11 of Anti-Money Laundering Act, notwithstanding the provisions of Republic Act 1405, as amended; Republic Act 6426, as amended; Republic Act 8791, and other 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 this Act, when it has been established that there is a probable cause that the deposits or investments are related to an unlawful activity as defined in the said law or a money laundering offense under the said law.

“The law here was violated. Why did they investigate it when there is no predicate crime as required by law? That is a requisite. The release of information (on bank accounts) requires a court order,” Marcos said.

Marcos said that they have been deliberating in the Senate on whether or not the Ombudsman can obtain information from AMLC based on a mere complaint.

“What happened to the Foreign Currency Act that says that foreign currency deposits are absolutely confidential, except with waiver from the account holder. Also, the way that the information was released should be resolved by the Commission, but no such decision was made. No vote was made on whether or not to investigate, or whether or not the Ombudsman should release the information. We are really bothered because we see the potential abuse of the laws that should protect depositors,” the senator said.

Marcos also asked: “Is this a new doctrine? A new system that on the basis of a complaint, the Ombudsman can already gain the information from the AMLC and can publicize that information?”

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