"What this Country needs is not a change OF men but a change IN men" March 1980

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Anti-Money Laundering Council admonished anew

For failing to forewarn the Senate of the expiration of the freeze order on the 32 accounts of former agriculture undersecretary Jocelyn Bolante, the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) was admonished anew by Independent Senator Richard J. Gordon.

Gordon, chairman of the Senate blue ribbon committee, said that since the freeze order on the 32 alleged accounts of Bolante had effectively lapsed last Dec. 20, the former undersecretary was able to withdraw funds from it.

"The AMLC told the bank accounts about the expiration of the freeze order, but why not the Senate which is doing an investigation on the said accounts? They should have informed the panel too," he said.

During the hearing, Bolante, the alleged architect of the P728-million fertilizer project, admitted that he already withdrew money from the accounts, although he refused to disclose how much and from which accounts he withdrew.

Bolante invoked the Bank Secrecy Law even as he refused to issue a waiver to allow authorities to look into his questioned accounts for the sake of transparency.

Gordon explained that had the AMLC told the Senate about it and had they filed a civil forfeiture case, the bank accounts would not have been unfrozen and Bolante would not be able to withdraw funds from it.

However, AMLC executive director Vicente Aquino said he did not feel it was his obligation or his civic duty to tell the panel about the impending expiration of the freeze order because no one asked him about it.

But Gordon said Aquino need not to be asked since it was part of AMLC's duty to inform the panel since they are doing an investigation on the bank accounts.

"You don't have to be asked," he told Aquino in dismay.

The senator earlier reprimanded the AMLC for not taking necessary actions to prevent the thaw of Bolante's bank accounts, which was unfrozen after the six-month effectivity of the Court of Appeals' freeze order lapsed last Dec. 20, 2008.

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