In a move to further strengthen the country’s fight against money laundering and to ensure that foreign exchange dealers (FXDs) also known as money changers (MCs) and remittance agents (RAs) will not be an easy target for money launderers, the Monetary Board, the policy-making body of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP), approved the issuance of rules and regulations that shall govern these entities. For purposes of this regulation, FXDs/MCs shall include those regularly engaged in the business of buying and/or selling foreign currencies, while RAs shall refer to persons or entities engaged in the business of remitting, transferring or transmitting money on behalf of any person to another person and/or entity and may include money or cash couriers, money transfer agents, remittance companies and the like.
Under this new regulation, FXDs/MCs and RAs are now required to register with the BSP before they can operate as such. FXDs/MCs and RAs existing prior to the effectivity of the regulation may still continue to operate provided that an application for registration has been filed with the BSP within ninety (90) calendar days from the effectivity date of the circular.
Said new regulation also requires FXDs/MCs and RAs to comply with the provisions of R.A. No. 9160, otherwise known as the “Anti-Money Laundering Law of 2001, as amended” particularly the “know your customer” (KYC), reporting of suspicious and covered transactions, and record keeping requirements. Proper documentation of “KYC” includes the need for both sellers and buyers of foreign currencies to fill up and sign an application form and to present government-issued identification documents such as SSS/GSIS/voter’s ID, driver’s license or passport, among others. On the other hand, RAs are required to maintain accurate and meaningful originator information on funds transferred/remitted which are basically the same information required from sellers and buyers of foreign currencies. Failure to comply with any of the requirements of the regulation will subject the concerned FXDs/MCs and RAs to appropriate monetary penalties, administrative sanctions, and applicable penalties prescribed under R.A. No. 9160, as amended.
This new regulation is expected to further strengthen the cause for the removal of the Philippines from the Financial Action Task Force’ (FATF) list of non-cooperative countries and territories.