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House approves bill on anti-foreign currency smuggling on 2nd reading
House approves bill on anti-foreign currency smuggling on 2nd reading
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House approves bill on anti-foreign currency smuggling on 2nd reading
by Daylight Abas02 August 2023
Photo courtesy: House of Representatives

The House of Representatives approved on second reading a bill that prohibits bulk cash smuggling to and from the Philippines in order to combat terrorist and criminal financing.

During the plenary session on Tuesday, the House enacted House Bill 8200, or the proposed Anti-Bulk Foreign Currency Smuggling Act, by voice vote.

The measure's author House Committee on Ways and Means chair Joey Salceda stated that penalizing bulk cash smuggling is one of the essential actions that the country might implement to dispel concerns that it is a "hub for money laundering."

Foreign banks are unwilling to conduct business with Filipinos and local banks because of the severe penalties for involvement in terrorist financing, he claims.

He stated that the hesitancy impacts remittances sent by Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) to their families as well as investments sent by investors to their partners in the country.

For physical cross-border transfers of foreign currency and other foreign currency-denominated bearer monetary instruments in excess of USD10,000 or equivalent in another foreign currency, the proposal demands a written or electronic statement under oath.

Bulk foreign currency smuggling is defined under the law as physically carrying or transferring foreign cash or other monetary instruments worth more than USD 200,000 or equivalent into and out of the Philippines.

It may also include evading the currency declaration requirement by concealing and transporting or attempting to transport foreign currency and other monetary instruments worth more than USD10,000 or equivalent into and out of the Philippines; failing to declare the unaccompanied foreign currency to be transported or already received; fraudulent false declaration; and breaking the amount into different sums to allow physical cross-border transportation.

The Bureau of Customs (BOC) would be empowered under the bill to seek information from anyone found to have committed a fraudulent declaration or non-declaration of a foreign currency or foreign currency-denominated bearer monetary instrument.

According to Salceda, the law would give the BOC the authority to temporarily impose restrictions on foreign currency or foreign currency-denominated bearer monetary instruments.

The bill intends to make bulk cash smuggling a predicate offense for money laundering, as defined in Republic Act 9160, often known as the Anti-Money Laundering Act of 2001.

A person who conducts mass foreign money smuggling will be imprisoned for at least seven years and up to fourteen years.

Assets related to cash smuggling will also be subject to civil forfeiture in favor of the Philippines.

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