Corona to help amend bank secrecy laws?

Posted at 06/06/12 1:59 AM

MANILA, Philippines - After facing the Senate impeachment court, former Chief Justice Renato Corona may find himself facing the House of Representatives -- this time as a resource person for amendments to the country's bank secrecy laws.

Paranaque Rep. Roilo Golez on Tuesday suggested that Corona be summoned as the House Committee on Banks and Financial Intermediaries tackles 7 bills proposing exceptions to the 1970s-era Foreign Currency Deposits Act (FCDA).

"Summon the person who triggered all of these at the proper time," Golez said.

Corona had invoked the FCDA as an excuse for his non-declaration of his US dollar-denominated accounts.

The panel is tackling 7 bills from Representatives Antonio Tinio, Salvio Fortuno, Julieta Cortuna, JV Ejercito, Reynaldo Umali , Bernadette Herrera Dy, Teodoro Casiño, and Neri Colmenares.

The bills seek a more powerful anti-money laundering law and relaxed bank secrecy laws.

This seems to be the unexpected legacy of Corona after his impeachment and removal from office over undeclared foreign currency accounts in his statement of assets, liabilities and net worth (SALN).

Committee chairman Rep. Sergio Apostol, however, frowned at the idea of inviting Corona.

"I don't want him invited. Gulo lang iyun. He was convicted because of misdeclaration of SALN, which is what's being talked about so why invite the fellow?" he asked

The panel is conducting public hearings on the 7 bills and has constituted a technical working group to harmonize them.

"One legacy of the impeachment trial of Mr. Corona, it has educated public and all of us on true nature of our bank secrecy laws and in part FCDA and secrecy it confers," Tinio said.

Anti-Money Laundering Council Executive Director Vicente Aquino supported amendments to the FCDA, so long as they do not change any part of the Anti-Money Laundering Law.

Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Deputy Director-General Elmor Capule also dispelled notions relaxing the FCDA will rock the foundations of the financial system.

Capule explained to lawmakers that the FCDA was passed in the 1970s to prevent crises arising from the low currency reserves of the government.

The 7 bills essentially add a provision empowering the courts, including the impeachment court, to look into FCDA.

The FCDA currently assures the absolute confidentiality of FCDU's unless waived by the depositor.