House bill

House bill to exclude government leaders from probe into deposit ban

A bill introduced in the House of Representatives seeks to exempt government officials and employees from the Bank Secrecy Act prohibition on investigating bank deposits.

By law, bank deposits, including investments in government bonds, are confidential and cannot be reviewed.

Exceptions are where the depositor authorizes it, or where the depositor is involved in cases of impeachment, bribery or breach of duty as a public official, or where the money deposited is subject to a dispute.

House Bill 4060, filed by Quezon City First District Representative Juan Carlos “Arjo” Atayde on August 24, seeks to amend Section 2 of the law by introducing another exemption.

If the bill is signed into law, bank deposits will only be subject to review on the above grounds “or when the depositor holds a public office in” the Philippine government.

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The proposed exemption covers those who hold public office “whether national or local, by virtue of appointment, election or contract, in any company or enterprise owned or controlled by the State , permanent or temporary, whether in career or non-career service, including those in military service, whether civilian or uniformed personnel and those in the police.”

The amendment includes a provision stating that “the aforementioned exemptions shall include foreign currency deposits” in “Philippine banks operating in the Philippines, foreign and offshore banks operating in the Philippines, and any other type of deposit substitutes.”

A similar bill is pending in the Senate.