PDEA, AMLC ink pact on forfeiture of laundered drug money

PDEA, AMLC ink pact on forfeiture of laundered drug money

GOING AFTER DRUG MONEY. PDEA Director General Wilkins Villanueva (left) and AMLC executive director Mel Georgie Racela (right) show a copy of the memorandum of agreement (MOA) signed at a ceremony at the PDEA National Headquarters in Quezon City on Tuesday (Aug. 11, 2020). Under the pact, PDEA shall refer to the AMLC drug-related cases for financial investigation, and if warranted, filing of cases involving freeze order, civil forfeiture, and money laundering, accompanied with specified case documents that are admissible in court. (Photo courtesy of PDEA)

MANILA – The Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) and the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) joined forces to effectively implement the forfeiture of laundered money alleged to be proceeds of illegal drug activities.

PDEA Director General Wilkins Villanueva and AMLC executive director Mel Georgie Racela signed a memorandum of agreement (MOA) in a simple ceremony held at the PDEA National Headquarters in Quezon City on Tuesday.

“Under the new agreement, both parties pledged to work hand in hand in the filing of cases involving the forfeiture of properties and other assets of persons/ or corporations found to be violating Republic Act 9165, or the Comprehensive Dangerous Act of 2002, and the Anti-Money Laundering Act (AMLA),” Villanueva said in a statement.

Under the agreement, PDEA shall refer to the AMLC drug-related cases for financial investigation, and if warranted, filing of cases involving freeze order, civil forfeiture, and money laundering, accompanied with specified case documents that are admissible in court.

Villanueva said in the prosecution of a criminal case involving unlawful activities under the AMLA, the PDEA endeavors to forfeit all properties, real or personal, nominally or beneficially owned by the respondent/accused, representing proceeds derived from the unlawful act/s, in favor of the government.

“This also includes properties found to be manifestly out of proportion to his/her lawful income; and the instruments or tools with which the particular unlawful act was committed. Assets reflected in the inventory, such as motor vehicles, cash, jewelry, and real properties that are in the custody of the law, shall be likewise forfeited,” he added.

Meanwhile, the AMLC strives to cause the civil forfeiture of monetary instruments and properties believed to be used in laundering activities involving drug money. These may include the same properties, proceeds, instruments, or tools sought for criminal forfeiture.

Aside from the filing of cases, PDEA will provide assistance and collaboration in the investigation and prosecution of its referred cases to AMLC.

PDEA officers may also act as witnesses and may follow up cases in courts with the AMLC.

In return, the AMLC may request PDEA for assistance in the service of court orders or issuances regarding case referrals.

On March 5, 2019, PDEA and AMLC likewise signed an agreement to promote and encourage cooperation to effectively prevent, control, detect and investigate unlawful activities under the AMLA.

PDEA and AMLC are members of the National Law Enforcement Coordinating Committee-Sub-Committee on Anti-Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism (NALECC Sub-Committee AML/CFT), and of the Enforcement Cluster of the Inter-Agency Committee on Illegal Drugs (ICAD).

“We need to track down the trail of drug money, arrest the perpetrators, and freeze their assets while they are being prosecuted. This would deprive them of the financial means to bail themselves out of jail,” Villanueva said. (PNA)

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