By Roy Mabasa
Twenty-eight regional trial court judges based in Cebu recently underwent two-day training on money laundering and financial crimes jointly conducted by the United States Embassy in Manila through the US Department of Justice (U.S. DOJ) Office of Overseas Prosecutorial Development Assistance, and Training (OPDAT) and the Philippine Judicial Academy (PHILJA) in Cebu City.
A total of 25 trainings for judges on financial crimes have been conducted over the last three years.
“Increasing cross-border financial crime awareness is critical because these cases are complex and must be handled efficiently and well when they arise,” said Commercial and Family Court Judge Rowena San Pedro, a speaker at the conference.
Chief US District Court Judge Frank Whitney of the Western District of North Carolina taught the Cebu-based judges international best practices on handling complex financial crime cases.
Judge Whitney is the co-author of “Federal Money Laundering: Crimes and Forfeitures,” one of the first resources published on the topic. Whitney has been involved in litigation related to money laundering and asset forfeiture since 1990.
According to the US Embassy, this is Whitney’s third visit to the Philippines to deliver money-laundering training.
US Embassy Resident Legal Advisor David Bragdon taught participants about fraud schemes and asset management.
On the other hand, Filipino experts from the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Anti-Money Laundering Council, and the Court of Appeals discussed Philippine laws, investigative techniques, and inter-agency cooperation in handling financial crimes.
Court of Appeals Associate Justice Apolinario D. Bruselas, Jr. taught rules of procedure involving financial crimes. To conclude the training, judges examined complex hypothetical financial crimes cases to determine how they would handle motions to dismiss, procedural issues, and substantive questions on such cases.
From August 28 to 30, the OPDAT and DOJ Philippines will conduct another training on investigation and prosecution of terrorism cases for prosecutors and law enforcement officers from around Mindanao.
The US Embassy said guest trainers will include a US prosecutor from the US DOJ National Security Division in Washington, D.C. and a cybercrime analyst from the US DOJ Computer Crimes and Intellectual Property Section.