Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) Governor Benjamin E. Diokno said depositors’ interest will be protected under the proposed Bank Deposits Secrecy Bill and any information will not be shared randomly.

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“Under the proposed bank deposits secrecy law, results of the inquiry and examination by BSP are for the exclusive use of the BSP. It will not be arbitrarily shared or disclosed,” said Diokno.

But while results of the inquiry and examination will not be made available to any person or entity, it will be accessible to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Philippine Deposit Insurance Corporation (PDIC), Anti- Money Laundering Council (AMLC), Department of Justice (DOJ), and the courts.

“It may be made available to the SEC, PDIC, AMLC, the DOJ, and the courts, if the sharing of the results of the said inquiry or examination is necessary to prevent or prosecute any offense or crime,” said Diokno.

“In this manner, the proposed amendments to the bank secrecy law will not actually prejudice the rights of the depositors,” he added. It will in fact be beneficial to depositors because other government agencies can go after criminals, Diokno also stressed.

In a statement on Monday, Diokno again reiterated the BSP’s urgent call for the passage of the Bank Deposits Secrecy Bill. “Ultimately, the reforms will benefit depositors as the BSP’s capacity to shield them from losses due to fraud and other unlawful activities will be strengthened,” he said.

Provisions of the bill limits inquiries to specified persons only, sets parameters for information sharing, and protects against political persecution, harassment or attempts to hamper competition in trade and commerce.

In the BSP’s version of the proposed law, which is House Bill No. 8991, provisions on specified persons mean the inquiry is limited to the deposit account of the stockholder, owner, director, trustee, officer or employee of an entity that is subject to the supervision or regulatory power of the BSP, the representative or agent, the related party, or any of the conspirators of the person involved in the commission of fraud, serious irregularity or unlawful activity.

Grounds for inquiry or examination, in the meantime, are based on the following: fraud, serious irregularity or unlawful activity has been or is being committed by the specified persons and it is necessary to look into the deposit to establish such fraud, irregularity or unlawful activity; and in the course of its investigation of closed banks.

The Philippines is the only country in the world with a bank secrecy law after Lebanon passed legislation lifting its own secrecy on bank deposits last December 2020.

The BSP, Diokno and even the banking and business sectors, have been aggressively pushing for the quick approval and resolution of bills that will amend the BSP-restricting Secrecy of Bank Deposits Act or Republic Act No. 1405. The Bank Deposits Secrecy Bill is already in the list of President Duterte’s legislative priorities for the 18th Congress.

Presently, in various stages of deliberations, there are a number of pending proposed measures such as HB 8991 which has been approved on first reading at the House of Representatives last February 26, 2021. The House Committee on Banks and Financial Intermediaries have three bills they will hear. The Senate Committee on Banks, Financial Institutions and Currencies, in the meantime, is handling six proposed bills.


Source: Manila Bulletin (https://mb.com.ph/2021/08/31/bsp-assures-interest-of-depositors-come-first/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=bsp-assures-interest-of-depositors-come-first)