PHILIPPINE NEWS SERVICE — SENATOR Richard Gordon yesterday said he wants to amend a provision in the 2001 Anti-Money Laundering Act (AMLA) to allow not more than two years extension on freeze order against the accounts and properties suspected to have been illegally acquired by any public official or employee.
Gordon, chairman of the Senate blue ribbon committee, is set to file a bill that specifically seeks to amend Section 10 of Republic Act 9160 as amended by RA 9194, otherwise known as the AMLA.
“We are introducing a measure to amend the anti-money laundering law, specifically on the section that provides for the implementing rules and regulations on freezing monetary instrument or property,” he said.
“Once the alleged offenders take hold of the accounts or property suspected to be related to money laundering, then the nation is immediately deprived of the possibility to recover unlawfully acquired assets and is prejudiced by the loss of property,” he added.
Under the current AMLA, the Court of Appeals (CA), upon request of the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC), may issue a freeze order on monetary instrument or property related to an unlawful activity for a period of 20 days and may be extended for a period not exceeding six months.
Under Gordon’s proposal, the CA may grant an extension of the freeze order every six months but, in no case, shall the total extension accumulate to more than two years.
“When the AMLC, the Ombudsman or the Solicitor General fails to file a forfeiture case and move for preliminary attachment, the freeze order may eventually lapse, giving the owners of the accounts free hand to dispose of the money or property as they wish,” Gordon said.
The AMLC, however, has to prove before the court that a “compelling reason” exists for the allowance of the extension.
Also, AMLC will have to justify why there is a failure on the part of the government to file for a preliminary attachment or forfeiture on any property found to have been unlawfully acquired by any public official or employee, thereby a need to further extend the freeze order period.