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U.S. and Philippines Train Metro Manila Judges on Financial Crimes
March 8, 2019

U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Mississippi Judge Michael Mills (front row, third from right) and U.S. Embassy Resident Legal Adviser David Bragdon (front row, third from left) with presenters, organizers, and participants at the training on financial crimes and money laundering.

Manila, March 8, 2019 — The U.S. Embassy in the Philippines, through the U.S. Department of Justice Office of Overseas Prosecutorial Development, Assistance and Training (OPDAT), partnered with the Philippine Judicial Academy (PHILJA) to train 24 Metro Manila judges on financial crimes and money laundering from February 26 to 27 in Makati City.

U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Mississippi Judge Michael Mills taught the Manila-based judges about traditional and emerging methods of money laundering.  Judge Mills, who visited the Philippines for this training, drew on extensive experience with financial crimes and money laundering from his twelve years in the Mississippi legislature and five years on the Mississippi Supreme Court.

“It is not enough to penalize criminals by imprisonment alone,” said Judge Mills.  “Money derived out of the criminal transactions should be seized.”

During the training, U.S. Embassy in the Philippines Resident Legal Advisor David Bragdon discussed international fraud schemes and asset management, drawing on his experience as an Assistant U.S. Attorney in North Carolina, where he handled numerous criminal cases, including public corruption, investment fraud, and other financial crimes.  Philippine experts, including Court of Appeals Associate Justice Apolinario Bruselas Jr. and Sandiganbayan Associate Justice Geraldine Faith Econg, presented on financial laws, securities fraud, scams, Ponzi schemes, investigative techniques, and inter-agency cooperation.

OPDAT and PHILJA have partnered to conduct 26 financial crimes trainings for judges around the Philippines over the last four years.  “It is important for judges to know the procedures involved in handling money laundering cases,” explained Bruselas, who trained the judges on rules of procedure for financial crimes.

On the last day of training, judges participated in a tabletop exercise, examining cases on civil forfeiture, money laundering, and fraud.  U.S. and Philippine experts then provided feedback on the presentations.

One participant said, “The seminar is very relevant because criminals are becoming high tech.  We as judges should be equipped to handle these types of cases.”