Proposed easing of bank secrecy law covers everyone: Dominguez

MANILA — The plan to ease the country’s bank secrecy law, which is under the proposed Package 1B of Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) Act, aims to allow courts to order the opening of bank accounts but only as evidence for tax evasion cases of anyone and not just public officials.

“The bill we are supporting is for everybody but subject to suspicions, evidence of tax evasion,” Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III said.

A bill for the proposed Package 1B has been filed in Congress last January and Department of Finance (DOF) officials expect it to be approved within the first half of 2018.

The Philippines is among the few countries in the world that has a Bank Secrecy Law, known here as Republic Act (RA) 1405 or The Law on Secrecy of Bank Deposits.

The said law, approved on Sept. 9, 1955, ensures secrecy of bank deposits and prohibits bank personnel from disclosing any information about a bank account holder unless required by a court or the depositor has issued a waiver.

Aside from relaxation of the Bank Secrecy Law, Package 1B also proposes for the automatic exchange of information and granting of tax amnesty.

The measure is seen to generate around PHP40 billion worth of revenues this year alone.

Dominguez said the idea of including public officials to those who would be covered by the proposed relaxation of the Bank Secrecy Law simply because they are government servants is unfair.

“We are not limiting it to public officials. We are covering everybody. Again, subject to if they are under suspicion for money laundering, for tax evasion,” he said.

The measure in the Senate has been deliberated and Dominguez said he has received information that it would be passed by end-March this year. (PNA)