Aside from Janet Lim Napoles and lawmakers who funded her non-government organizations, banks may also be held accountable over the pork barrel scam.
The Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) is probing bank accounts linked to the businesswoman at the center of the scandal, Senate President Franklin Drilon said Monday.
“[T]he rule is that if the transaction is over P500,000 the banks will report it,” Drilon said, referring the implementing rules of the Anti-Money Laundering Act of 2001.
The law requires financial institutions to report single transactions in cash or other equivalent monetary instrument amounting to P500,000 or more in one banking day.
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Drilon noted, however, note that not all these transactions are considered suspicious as banks impose what he called the “know your customer rule.”
“There’s no red flag simply because it's P500,000. You report it, but you won't say something is wrong here,” he said, adding that banks are the ones who tag “irregular transactions.”
In many cases, he said, transactions beyond P500,000 do not raise red flags because banks find these transactions to be “in the ordinary course of the client.”
The Senate President’s statement comes as the Justice department on Monday filed charges against Napoles and at least five lawmakers.
Pork barrel scam whistleblower Benhur Luy has earlier told the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee that Napoles often transacted with banks in excessive amounts of cash.
Luy, once Napoles’ aide, cited an instance when they needed P75 million from a private bank, which they then called to reserve the money for pickup in cash later that day.
The amounts are overwhelming that the cash often did not fit in Napoles’ vaults, and has to be placed in bags and either on her bed or in her bathtub, Luy told senators.
Also read: Senators could be expelled if found guilty of plunder
The Court of Appeals has earlier issued a six-month freeze order on all accounts owned by Napoles, her family, her company’s staff and all her non-government organizations.
Whistleblowers have claimed however that most of Napoles’ more than 400 bank accounts may have already been emptied prior to the freeze order.
The AMLC has also earlier said they are looking into the possibility that Napoles stored money in accounts abroad, noting that these too may be covered by frozen.