UNODC Facilitates Landmark Data-Sharing Agreement to Strengthen Philippines' Fight Against Criminal Financing

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Manila (Philippines), 28 February 2023 - As corporate entities can be exploited to hide the identities of individuals involved in large-scale corruption, the issue of beneficial ownership transparency has emerged as a critical factor in the ongoing battle against corruption and money laundering enabling the illicit transfer of funds. Recognizing the urgency of this matter, UNODC, in collaboration with the U.S. State Department's Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL), is working closely with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) in the Philippines to improve beneficial ownership transparency.

By requesting the disclosure of information regarding corporate entities, authorities gain vital insights into the flow of illicit funds, strengthening their capacity to disrupt and dismantle criminal networks. To facilitate the sharing of beneficial ownership information between SEC and law enforcement agencies, UNODC organized a workshop last September 13, 2022, which focused on the importance of beneficial ownership information in investigating corruption and financial crimes. The workshop aimed to design robust data-sharing agreements that grant relevant authorities, including law enforcement agencies, procurement authorities, prosecutors, and tax authorities, access to and utilization of this crucial information. As a result, 15 data-sharing agreements were established between the SEC and various law enforcement agencies and procurement authorities.

Building upon the progress achieved during the workshop, on February 28, 2023, the SEC, the Philippines National Police (PNP), the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR), and the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) signed data-sharing agreements, which enhance and streamline law enforcement’s ability to access beneficial ownership information. This proactive approach aligns with the recommendation of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) to provide relevant authorities timely access to beneficial ownership information. By equipping competent authorities with essential data, the agreement significantly enhances their ability to conduct thorough investigations and prosecute financial crimes. This crucial step acts as a powerful deterrent against illicit activities and fosters a culture of integrity within the corporate sector.

During the signing ceremony, Emilio Aquino, Chairman of the SEC, expressed gratitude to UNODC for their support in organizing the 2022 Workshop on Beneficial Ownership. He recognized the pivotal role played by the workshop in facilitating the conclusion of these significant data-sharing agreements.

This collaborative effort among the SEC, BIR, PNP, and PAGCOR signifies a strong commitment to corporate transparency and combatting criminal financing in the Philippines.

This initiative was part of activities funded by the United States Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs.

Other Useful Links:

  • A description of a Roundtable Discussion on Asset Recovery held in the Philippines in April 2023 can be found here.
  • A summary of a Roundtable Discussion on Public Procurement Fraud held in the Philippines in April 2023 can be found here.
  • A description of the launch of the Professional Code of Ethics and Responsibility (CPRA) for lawyers held in the Philippines in May 2023 can be found here.