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Bill easing bank deposit secrecy gets Palace endorsement

By:  – Reporter / @daxinq
 / 05:24 AM August 19, 2021

A central bank-backed bill that will ease one of the most restrictive deposit secrecy laws in the world has received the backing of President Duterte who has included it in his list of priority legislative measures to be tacked by lawmakers.

In a statement, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) said the Bank Deposits Secrecy bill had been endorsed by the Chief Executive to the incoming 18th Congress for immediate action, according to the Presidential Legislative Liaison Office. The central bank hopes the Bank Deposits Secrecy Bill will equip its examiners with tools necessary to prove the commission of fraud, serious irregularity or unlawful activity if reasonable basis exists.

The agency says this will also allow it to fulfill its mandate and conduct more holistic examinations of banks so that risk areas will be considered in assessing their financial condition, risk management and corporate governance systems.

“We are glad the President has identified the Bank Deposits Secrecy Bill as a legislative priority,” BSP Governor Benjamin Diokno said. “In view of this, the BSP will further step up its efforts to coordinate with Congress and other stakeholders for the immediate passage of the measure.” One key provision of the proposed law is that the results of the inquiry or examination by the BSP will not be arbitrarily shared or disclosed but will only be for the exclusive use of the regulator.

Nevertheless, the BSP may share the results of its examination with the courts and other regulators only if it is necessary to prevent or prosecute an offense or crime.

“This [bill] enhances the BSP’s capacity to fulfill its mandate of promoting the safety and soundness of the banking system,” Diokno said. “It also enables compliance with international standards on transparency that will also bolster the public and the global community’s trust in the domestic banking system.”

The Office of the President informed the BSP that it had referred the Bank Deposits Secrecy Bill to the Legislative-Executive Development Advisory Council for prioritization and inclusion in the Common Legislative Agenda for the Executive and Legislative.

This was in response to separate communications sent by the BSP requesting that said bill be included in the list of priority bills and be certified as urgent by the President.

In the House of Representatives, the BSP is in constant communication with the Committee on Banks and Financial Intermediaries for the interpellation of the bill. Meanwhile, the BSP has touched base with various offices of Senators for possible sponsorship and conducted briefings in this regard.