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Senator Imee Marcos on Wednesday raised fears about personal protective equipment (PPE), testing kits, disinfectants, respirators, surgical tools, and future vaccines becoming the “newest instruments for money laundering.”

Marcos, chair of the Senate committee on economic affairs, said the urgent and high global demand for medical supplies and equipment to fight the Covid-19 pandemic has led to “more relaxed procurement processes and regulatory requirements” by governments and private hospitals, making them vulnerable to financial fraud.

Marcos added that medical needs “presented new avenues for money laundering, with financial criminals evading detection in casino and real estate operations which have weakened due to pandemic restrictions on public gatherings and the lower demand for huge office spaces as work-from-home arrangements become the new norm.”

“Amendments to the Anti-Money Laundering Act should not be outrun by these new developments,” she said.

Marcos added that the measly P2.5 billion budget for acquiring a vaccine next year could abet money laundering, as public clamor grows and government and private institutions seek to remedy inadequate supply.

The latest plenary report of the international money laundering watchdog, the Paris-based Financial Action Task Force (FATF), noted a growing incidence of financial fraud involving overpriced and counterfeit medical goods.

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