Rules on Secrecy and Garnishment of Foreign Currency Deposits.

What is the general rule on the secrecy of foreign currency bank deposits? All foreign currency deposits are considered as absolutely confidential. [1] What are the exceptions to the general rule? 1. Upon the written permission of the depositor; [2] 2. Upon order of the Court of Appeals for examination of bank deposits, placements, trust accounts, assets, and records, pursuant to Human Security Act of 2007; [3] 3. Upon the order of a competent court in cases involving violation of the Anti-Money Laundering law when it has been established that there is probable cause that the deposits or investments involved are in any way related to a money laundering offense; [4] 4. Reporting by the Covered Institutions to the Anti-Money Laundering Council of Covered Transactions and Suspicious transactions; and [5] 5. Upon inquiry of the Anti-Monel Laundering Council involving certain activities defined in Section 11 of R.A. 9160 as amended by R.A. 10167. What is the general rule on garnishment? Foreign currency deposits shall be exempt from attachment, garnishment, or any other order or process of any court, legislative body, government agency or any administrative body whatsoever. [6] What is the exception to the rule? If the application of the rule on exemption will result in an injustice as held by the Supreme Court in the case of Salvacion vs. Central Bank of the Philippines. [7]


In the Salvacion case, Greg Bartelli, an American tourist, was charged with the crimes of serious illegal detention and rape committed against Karen Salvacion, a minor. In a separate civil case, Salvacion, through her guardian, applied for a Writ of Preliminary Attachment, and the judge granted the same. A Notice of Garnishment was then served on China Banking Corporation where Bartelli had a dollar account. China Bank denied the Notice of Garnishment by invoking Section 113 of Central Bank Circular No. 960 to the effect that the dollar deposits of Greg Bartelli are exempt from garnishment. The Supreme Court ruled that:


In fine, the application of the law depends on the extent of its justice. Eventually, if we rule that the questioned Section 113 of Central Bank Circular No. 960 which exempts from attachment, garnishment, or any other order or process of any court, legislative body, government agency or any administrative body whatsoever, is applicable to a foreign transient, injustice would result especially to a citizen aggrieved by a foreign guest like accused Greg Bartelli. This would negate Article 10 of the New Civil Code which provides that "in case of doubt in the interpretation or application of laws, it is presumed that the lawmaking body intended right and justice to prevail.


It would be unthinkable, that the questioned Section 113 of Central Bank No. 960 would be used as a device by accused Greg Bartelli for wrongdoing, and in so doing, acquitting the guilty at the expense of the innocent.

[1] Sec. 8, R.A. No. 6426 [2] Id. [3] Secs. 27 and 28, R.A. No. 9372. [4] Sec. 11, R.A. No. 9160, as amended. [5] Sec. 9, R.A. No. 9160, as amended. [6] Sec. 8, R.A. No. 6426, as amended by PD 1246. [7] Salvacion vs. Central Bank of the Philippines, G.R. No. 94723 (August 21, 1997)

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