AMLC Statement on PSBank President’s testimony, involving Chief Justice Renato C. Corona

Statement of the Anti-Money Laundering Council:On the PSBank president’s testimony
[Released on February 21, 2012]
The Anti-Money Laundering Council today said the testimony of PSBank President Pascual Garcia alleging its involvement in the examination of the deposit accounts of Supreme Court Chief Justice Renato C. Corona is inaccurate, misleading, and unfair.  In the interest  of truth, the AMLC hereby states for the record that:
1. The AMLC has NOT conducted any audit, targeted or otherwise, of Chief Justice Renato C. Corona’s deposit accounts with PSBank. The AMLC has no audit functions under the AMLA, as amended.
2. The AMLC likewise did NOT conduct an inquiry into or examination of Chief Justice Corona’s deposit accounts with PSBank.  Under Sec. 11 of the AMLA, as amended, “the AMLC may inquire into or examine any particular deposit or investment with any banking institution or non-bank financial institution upon order of any competent court in cases of violation of said law, when it has been established that there is probable cause that the deposits or investments are related to an unlawful activity as defined in Section 3(i) thereof or a money laundering offense under Section 4 thereof.” Without an enabling court order, therefore, the AMLC cannot conduct such inquiry or examination except where the predicate crime involved is kidnapping for ransom, a narcotics offense and hijacking, destructive arson or murder, including those perpetrated by terrorists against non-combatant persons and similar targets.
If and when the AMLC applies with a competent court for an inquiry order, the court must first give prior notice to the account owner about the planned inquiry or examination, pursuant to the ruling of the Supreme Court in the case of Republic of the Philippines  v. Hon. Antonio M. Eugenio, Jr., et al., G.R. No. 174629, February 14, 2008.
Given this legal impediment, the AMLC has been working with Congress to amend the AMLA to authorize it to conduct bank inquiry without giving advance notice to the account owner.
3. AMLC’s financial investigators have not set foot in PSBank’s Katipunan branch. Neither have they requested, been shown, copied, nor received any identity documents and specimen signature cards of Chief Justice Corona from PSBank or any of its branches. Hence, the AMLC could not have leaked out deposit account records including the signature cards of the Chief Justice with PSBank.
4. Finally, the AMLC is a distinct and independent government agency.