Anti-Money Laundering Cases

RP vs. Hon. Velasco Jr. (GR: 174629)

Money laundering has been generally defined by the International Criminal Police Organization (Interpol) `as any act or attempted act to conceal or disguise the identity of illegally obtained proceeds so that they appear to have originated from legitimate sources.

Section 4 of the AMLA states that money laundering is a crime whereby the proceeds of an unlawful activity as defined in the law are transacted, thereby making them appear to have originated from legitimate sources.

Respondents posit that a bank inquiry order under Section 11 may be obtained only upon the pre-existence of a money laundering offense case already filed before the courts. The conclusion is based on the phrase upon order of any competent court in cases of violation of this Act, the word cases generally understood as referring to actual cases pending with the courts.

We are unconvinced by this proposition, and agree instead with the then Solicitor General who conceded that the use of the phrase in cases of was unfortunate, yet submitted that it should be interpreted to mean in the event there are violations of the AMLA, and not that there are already cases pending in court concerning such violations. If the contrary position is adopted, then the bank inquiry order would be limited in purpose as a tool in aid of litigation of live cases, and wholly inutile as a means for the government to ascertain whether there is sufficient evidence to sustain an intended prosecution of the account holder for violation of the AMLA.

Section 11 also allows the AMLC to inquire into bank accounts without having to obtain a judicial order in cases where there is probable cause that the deposits or investments are related to kidnapping for ransom, certain violations of the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002, hijacking and other violations under R.A. No. 6235, destructive arson and murder. Since such special circumstances do not apply in this case, there is no need for us to pass comment on this proviso. Suffice it to say, the proviso contemplates a situation distinct from that which presently confronts us, and for purposes of the succeeding discussion, our reference to Section 11 of the AMLA excludes said proviso.

GSIS Vs. CA (GR 189206)

Republic Act No. 1405 provides for four (4) exceptions when records of deposits may be disclosed. These are under any of the following instances: a) upon written permission of the depositor, (b) in cases of impeachment, (c) upon order of a competent court in the case of bribery or dereliction of duty of public officials or, (d) when the money deposited or invested is the subject matter of the litigation, and e) in cases of violation of the Anti-Money Laundering Act (AMLA), the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) may inquire into a bank account upon order of any competent court.  On the other hand, the lone exception to the non-disclosure of foreign currency deposits, under Republic Act No. 6426, is disclosure upon the written permission of the depositor.

These two laws both support the confidentiality of bank deposits. There is no conflict between them. Republic Act No. 1405 was enacted for the purpose of giving encouragement to the people to deposit their money in banking institutions and to discourage private hoarding so that the same may be properly utilized by banks in authorized loans to assist in the economic development of the country.  It covers all bank deposits in the Philippines and no distinction was made between domestic and foreign deposits. Thus, Republic Act No. 1405 is considered a law of general application. On the other hand, Republic Act No. 6426 was intended to encourage deposits from foreign lenders and investors.  It is a special law designed especially for foreign currency deposits in the Philippines. A general law does not nullify a specific or special law. Generalia specialibus non derogant.  Therefore, it is beyond cavil that Republic Act No. 6426 applies in this case.