Photo BSP Corporate Affairs Office
Nestor A. Espenilla Jr.
The Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) and its Secretariat deeply mourn the passing of its Chairman and Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) Governor, Nestor A. Espenilla Jr., on 23 February 2019. He was 60 years old.
Appointed head of the country’s central bank by President Rodrigo Roa Duterte on 3 July 2017, Chairman Espenilla was the ex-officio Chairman of the AMLC, the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC), and the Financial Stability Coordination Council (FSCC).
Under Chairman Espenilla’s leadership, the AMLC saw the passage of Republic Act (RA) No. 10927 or “An Act Designating Casinos as Covered Persons under the RA No. 9160, otherwise known as the Anti-Money Laundering Act of 2001 (AMLA), as amended,” placing casinos as covered persons under the AMLA, as amended. Subsequently, the AMLC, together with Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR), Aurora Pacific Economic Zone and Freeport (APECO), and Cagayan Economic Zone Authority (CEZA) signed the Casino Implementing Rules and Regulations (CIRR) of RA No. 10927, to prevent the Philippine casino industry from becoming venues for money laundering and terrorist financing.
As an experienced and learned policymaker, Chairman Espenilla oversaw the adoption of significant regulations, such as the AMLC Registration and Reporting Guidelines (ARRG) and its amendments as well as ARRG for Casinos to ensure proper and timely compliance with reporting procedures; the Digitization of Customer Records (DIGICUR); the AML/CFT Guidelines for Designated Non-Financial Businesses and Professions (DNFBPs); the Guidelines on Identifying Beneficial Ownership; and the 2018 Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR).
Other milestones under Chairman Espenilla's guidance were the approval of the Second National Risk Assessment Report, which evaluated the overall threat and effectiveness of the country’s anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism financing mechanisms, covering the years 2015 and 2016; and the approval of the National Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Financing of Terrorism Strategy (NACS). Largely driven by the Second NRA, the NACS laid out seven concrete objectives, ranging from enhancement of Philippine laws and regulations, strengthening the AMLC’s investigations and prosecutions, coordination among government agencies, development of mechanisms to deter money laundering and financing of terrorism, improved supervision of covered persons, international cooperation, and information dissemination to combat money laundering and terrorism financing.
During Chairman Espenilla’s term, the AMLC also secured convictions for money laundering against former bank manager Maia Deguito for her involvement in the Bangladesh Bank cyberheist.
As a visionary manager and leader with a fervent belief in leveraging technology, Chairman Espenilla also spearheaded the AMLC Secretariat’s ongoing administrative reorganization, which more than doubled the staff complement, and the acquisition and operationalization of the data mining equipment, which improved the quality of data gathering, retrieval, and analysis. These initiatives have enabled the AMLC to cope with the growing complexity and increasing number of financial transactions and crimes.
Describing himself as homegrown, Chairman Espenilla joined the then-Central Bank in 1981. Prior to becoming the BSP Governor, he served as the Deputy Governor of the Supervision and Examination Sector, overseeing banks and non-bank financial institutions under BSP jurisdiction, rising through the ranks of the financial agency’s organizational structure.
Pursuant to Section 7 of the AMLA, as amended, on the creation of the Council, the BSP Governor is ex-officio the Chairman, with the Commissioner of the Insurance Commission and the Chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission, as members of the AMLC. Presently, the Council Members are Insurance Commissioner Dennis B. Funa and Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman Emilio B. Aquino.
Until President President Rodrigo Roa Duterte designates an Officer-in-Charge (OIC) or appoints a successor, the BSP Monetary Board has named Deputy Governor Maria Almasara Cyd Tuaño-Amador as BSP OIC and, consequently, Acting AMLC Chairperson, effective immediately.