Bill on extra powers for Central Bank nears House approval

April 1, 2023 Jester P. Manalastas 186 views

A measure that seeks to provide additional powers to the central bank to probe bank deposits is nearing final approval in the House of Representatives.

Approved on second reading is House Bill 7446 which amends Republic Act 1405 or the “Secrecy of Bank Deposits Law” to empower the Bangko Sentral to investigate bank deposits.

It is expected to get third and final reading approval once session resumes next month.

The bill seeks to lift the barriers in the effective investigation and prosecution of corrupt or illegal financial actions of stockholders, owners, directors, trustees, officers or employees of entities supervised and regulated by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP).

Among its target is to combat tax evasion, money laundering and other financial crimes, address the unintended consequences of bank secrecy laws, and comply with international standards on transparency in financial transactions.

The bill empowers the BSP to inquire into or examine deposits in the course of its investigation of closed banks, or when there are suspicions of fraud or serious irregularity.

It also limits the use of the results of bank examinations exclusively to the BSP, Securities and Exchange Commission, Philippine Deposit Insurance Corporation, Anti-Money Laundering Council, Department of Justice, and the courts.

The bill likewise provides a safe harbor clause exempting banks or financial institutions, their directors, officers, or employees from any action, claim, demand, or liability, for acts done in compliance with an order of inquiry or examination of deposits from the BSP.

The bill also forbids the use of the Bank Secrecy Law for persecution or harassment, or as an instrument to hamper competition in trade and commerce.