Philippines 'avoids money-laundering blacklist'

The Philippines said Saturday it had avoided an international blacklist on money laundering and terrorist financing after passing two new laws this month.

The Financial Action Task Force, an inter-governmental body, has upgraded the Philippines to its "grey list" of countries making sufficient progress in their action plans, President Benigno Aquino's spokeswoman Abigail Valte said.

"These reforms (prevented) the Philippines from being classified and downgraded to the 'black list', which would have resulted in stricter inspections of financial transactions in the country," she said in a statement.

The Philippines was previously in the FATF's "dark grey list" of jurisdictions deemed not to be making sufficient progress.

The FATF levied a blacklist threat earlier this year, calling for greater state powers to make it easier to scrutinise bank accounts, as well as casinos, foreign exchange traders and other non-bank entities.

Two bills were passed on June 6 expanding powers to investigate bank accounts, but parliament failed to agree on a third bill to allow greater inspection of non-bank entities.

The FATF was not immediately reachable for verification Saturday and its website still listed the Philippines as among the countries not making sufficient progress.

The Philippines' Anti-Money Laundering Council said the FATF had urged Manila to include bribery, public funds misuse, human trafficking, tax evasion and environmental crimes as grounds for a financial investigation.

The FATF is made up of 187 member countries with the aim of making the international financial system off-limits to criminals.

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