SC Approves CA Rule of Procedure in Bank Inquiries Related to Anti- Money Laundering Offenses

May 30, 2021

The Supreme Court has recently approved A.M. No. 21-03-05-CA or The Court of Appeals Rule of Procedure in Cases of Bank Inquiry Into or Examination of Deposit and Investment Accounts Relating to an Unlawful Activity or a Money Laundering Offense Under Republic Act No. 9160, as Amended.

This Rule, which takes effect on May 31, 2021, shall apply to ex  parte applications for authority to inquire into, or examine, deposit or investment accounts with any banking institution or non-bank financial institution and their subsidiaries and affiliates, representing, involving, or relating to an “unlawful activity” under Section 3(i) or a “money laundering offense” under Section 4 of RA 9160, or the Anti-Money Laundering Act of 2001, as amended, except in cases of unlawful activities as defined by the same law.

Under the Rule, the Republic of the Philippines, represented by the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC), through the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG), may file an ex parte application for bank inquiry before the Court of Appeals (CA) when it has been established that there is probable cause that the deposits or investments involved, including  related accounts, are in any way related to an unlawful activity or a money laundering offense.

Such ex parte application shall be verified and accompanied by a sworn certification of non-forum shopping personally signed by an authorized AMLC official, and shall contain the following: a) the account number, or any other specific description of the deposit or investment accounts sought to be inquired into or examined, the owner or holder of  the deposit or investment accounts, the address of such owner or holder, the name of the banking institution or non-bank financial institution where such account is maintained, and their location, if known; b) the ground relied upon for the grant of authority to inquire into or examine the deposit or investment account; and c) the supporting evidence showing the existence of probable cause that the subject deposit of investment accounts are in any way related to an unlawful activity or a money laundering offense under RA 9160.

In cases involving a mix of banks with the main office in Manila or Luzon and local banks which do not have offices in Luzon, the ex parte

application shall be filed with the CA in Manila. In cases where two or   more local banks without offices in Luzon are involved, but one or some have offices in the Visayas while the others are based in Mindanao, the application shall be filed with the CA station where the main office of the local bank is located.

The application shall be raffled immediately on the same day it is  filed to a specific Justice who is not on official leave of absence. All members of the CA Division to which the assigned Justice belongs shall resolve the ex parte application within 24 hours from its receipt.

If the CA finds no merit in the application, it shall dismiss the same, stating the specific reasons for such dismissal. A resolution denying an ex parte application for bank inquiry can only be reviewed through a Petition for Certiorari to the Supreme Court under Rule 65 of the Revised Rules of Court.

The Rule provides that the bank inquiry order issued by the CA shall:

a) issue in the name of the Republic of the Philippines, represented by the AMLC; b) describe with particularity the deposit or investment account sought to be inquired into or examined, as well as the names of the account owners/holders; c) direct the banking or non-bank financial institution concerned to allow the AMLC full access to all information, documents, and objects relating to the subject deposit or investment account within a specific period of time; d) forbid the aforesaid institution,  or any of its directors, officers, and employees, from disclosing, divulging, or communication directly or indirectly, or in any manner, to the owners or holders of accounts inquired into, or to any other person, the fact that said accounts are being inquired into or examined, with warning that a violation thereof constitutes contempt of court; and e) direct the OSG to inform the court of the institution of a civil forfeiture proceedings within five calendar days from its filing.

Such bank inquiry order issued by the CA shall be effective for a period of 120 calendar days from the date of the receipt by the AMLC, and shall have the same effect as that of a freeze order under Section 2(d), Rule VI, of the 2009 Internal Rules of the Court of Appeals.

The court, upon motion of the AMLC and before the expiration of the 120-day period, may, for good cause, extend the effectivity of the bank inquiry order for a period not exceeding one hundred and twenty (120) calendar days. ###

READ FULL TEXT OF A.M. NO. 21-03-05-CA at https://sc.judiciary.gov.ph/18729/