Securities and Exchange Commission

Philippines SEC ramps up digital asset crime monitoring under US, ADB partnership

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The Philippines Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has teamed up with global securities regulators to increase its monitoring of digital currencies to prevent their usage in financial crimes.

In an official release, the securities watchdog announced a partnership with the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the U.S. SEC in a training workshop put together by the International Organization of Securities Commissions (IOSCO). The IOSCO’s training took place in Makati City, with the officials from the Philippines SEC receiving training on modern-day investigative processes to police digital assets effectively.

Head of the Philippines SEC Emilio Aquino confirmed that the IOSCO-led training introduced novel methods to equip the regulator in cracking down on insider trading, market manipulation, digital currency scams, and off-market fraud.

With technological advancements, scammers have created more sophisticated techniques for luring their victims, said Aquino.

“As such, the SEC must constantly improve its investigation and enforcement capabilities to ensure that we are always one step ahead in preventing scams,” he noted.

U.S. SEC officials in attendance shared their experiences in investigating and prosecuting capital market offenses, emphasizing the need for interagency collaboration for efficiency. Upon the conclusion of the training sessions, representatives of both regulators paid a courtesy visit to House Speaker Ferdinand Martin Romualdez and Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri, urging lawmakers to pass regulations designed to strengthen the enforcement powers of the SEC.

Both representatives also appealed for Parliament to craft legislation that complies with IOSCO standards without limiting the SEC’s regulatory powers.

“We are grateful for the U.S. SEC, ADB, and IOSCO for sharing their experiences and learning with us and other law enforcement agencies in the Philippines, which will surely guide us as we pursue more programs and activities,” said Aquino.

In August, the Filipino SEC facilitated the IOSCO Multilateral Memorandum of Understanding (MMoU) Concerning Consultation and Cooperation and the Exchange of Information Public Workshop 2023.

Philippine SEC continues crackdown on industry’s bad actors

Aware of the risks posed by digital currencies to investors, the SEC has embarked on a series of initiatives to crack down against bad actors. Top on the list for the securities watchdog is the release of public advisories against entities offering unregistered securities in the form of digital currency investment.

Early in the year, the SEC partnered with the University of the Philippines Law Center to research digital currency and fintech regulation. However, the SEC announced that it would be postponing the deployment of its proposed rule book to strengthen its investor protection provisions.

“We were about to issue these rules, but the crash of several digital asset companies compelled us to revisit them,” said Aquino. “We just can’t discount the key information that led to their downfall.”

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