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From Grey List to Great Heights: CEZA’s AML Advancements Recognized

CEZA garnered positive feedback at the Asia Pacific Joint Group (APJG) Meeting held in Bali, Indonesia, from May 13-17, 2024, after presenting its accomplishments to the Body, following the Action Plan given to the Philippines to exit from the Grey List.

At the APJG Meeting, Secretary Katrina Ponce Enrile, CEZA Administrator and CEO, and the designated Primary Delegate/Speaker, unveiled significant enhancements to CEZA’s internal processes and systems to bolster financial crime prevention efforts. During the discussion, the Joint Group commended CEZA for conducting comprehensive examinations of 100% of its covered persons, including interactive gaming operators and interactive gaming support service providers (IGSSPs) under its jurisdiction.

Following the comprehensive examination, CEZA issued appropriate dissuasive measures to the concerned covered persons. The regulatory framework for Anti-Money Laundering (AML) and Counter-Terrorism Financing (CTF) was reinforced with supplementary guidelines, and a CEZA AML/CTF Task Force was established to oversee implementation. Sec. Enrile shared plans to eventually establish an independent division focused on enforcing AML regulations. The APJG Body recognized these achievements as positive developments.

The APJG is an inter-governmental body with 42 member-jurisdictions across the Asia-Pacific region and several observers. The Body is dedicated to implementing effective Anti-Money Laundering/Countering the Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT) measures based on global standards. Members and observers of the APJG commit to conducting mutual evaluations for AML/CFT purposes.

Following the ’40 Recommendations’ of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), the global authority on money laundering and terrorist financing has also developed ’18 Immediate Outcomes.’ CEZA has contributed significantly to Immediate Outcome 3 (IO3), which requires demonstrating risk-based AML/CFT supervision.

In an interview, Sec. Enrile emphasized CEZA’s commitment to integrity and good governance. She shared that one of her immediate action plans upon assuming the role of CEZA Head in June 2023 was to refine CEZA’s systems and processes to fortify its reputation as a reputable gaming and financial technology (fintech) authority. These efforts have balanced CEZA’s ability to function effectively as a regulatory body for gaming and fintech, providing a safe haven for operators and clients within its jurisdiction. Additionally, Sec. Enrile reaffirmed CEZA’s commitment to continually strengthening its policies and monitoring capabilities to prevent crimes such as money laundering, proliferation financing, and terrorism financing.

Sec. Enrile delivered the closing remarks at the Meeting, highlighting the country’s significant efforts, which have resulted in tangible progress toward exiting the FATF Grey List and enhancing AML/CFT and counter-proliferation financing (CPF) management. She emphasized that these efforts remain a top priority for the Philippine Government, moving forward.

Finally, Sec. Enrile has pledged to collaborate continuously with the National AML and CTF Coordinating Committee. This partnership aims to fulfill CEZA’s role as an “Appropriate Government Agency” under R.A. 10927, which amends R.A. 9160, or the “Anti-Money Laundering Act of 2001,” and to prevent the infiltration of financial crimes into CEZA’s jurisdiction.

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