November 15, 2015 at 11:35 pm
Gabrielle H. Binaday
The Securities and Exchange Commission is pushing for amendments in the Securities Regulation Code that will allow it to gain access to bank records, its top official said over the weekend.
SEC chairman Teresita Herbosa said despite the provisions in the Securities Regulation Code, or Republic Act 8799, that helped it investigate securities fraud, the agency needed access to bank records to officially join the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation multilateral agreement called Asia Fund Regional Passport.
“[We need] amendment for our Securities Regulation Code, because right now if you look at our Securities Regulation Code, there are already provisions there that would aid us to investigate securities fraud and you’ve seen that also in our handling of matters involving investment scams. But in order to really fully make it more expeditious, we really have to have access bank records,” Herbosa said.
Republic Act No. 1405 and Presidential Decree No. 1792 consider bank deposits as confidential in nature and can only be looked into once authorized by Bangko Sentral’s Monetary Board based on suspicion of fraud.
One of SEC’s proposals was to enable it to subpoena banks to give the records or give it access to bank documents in the course of conducting investigations.
“This time we really might need legislation and that would consist of lifting the Bank Secrecy Law in the aspect of securities violations, so when we investigate the securities fraud, we must be able to access bank records,” she said.
The meeting will be a part of the country’s preparation before presenting the reapplication with the International Organization of Securities Exchange Commission.
IOSCO’s accreditation is one of the requirements to implement the ARFP initiative.
ARFP eases regulatory requirements for operators of investment schemes, so they could easily offer products in another territory outside of their host country.
The Philippines signed a memorandum of understanding for the ARFP during the Apec finance ministerial meetings in Cebu in September together with six other member economies.
Herbosa said the SEC already drafted a number of proposals to secure the nod of IOSCO.
“We’ll have to see to it that internationally, that would already be sufficient help for SEC here in the Philippines to be able to make use of bank records in terms of information sharing,” she said.
“Once we file for amendment of our Securities Regulation Code, that would be already taken as a full-pledged commitment,” Herbosa said.
Herbosa said IOSCO “strongly suggested” to relax the Bank Secrecy Law to investigate or exchange information with SEC’s counterparts regarding securities fraud.
She said the SEC sought the help of Sen. Sergio Osmena III for the proposal.