A senior official of Rizal Commercial Banking Corp says his institution does not deal with casinos as corporate clients; mainly due to the investment of International Finance Corp – a private sector arm of the World Bank – in the institution.
An article published in the Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper on February 29 suggested that accounts at Rizal bank had been used to launder US$100 million stolen by hackers from the accounts of a bank overseas, which Inquirer sources said was a financial institution in Bangladesh. The Inquirer report said that the laundering had been achieved by passing money through three casino venues in Manila, the Philippines’ capital.
“We are not allowed to deal with casinos,” Rizal bank’s vice chairman Cesar Virata was quoted as saying by the Philippine Star newspaper, in a story updated on Monday.
Mr Virata was also quoted as saying the account allegedly used to launder the money was an individual one that was opened more than a year ago.
The report did not mention whether the Philippine bank had identified the account as being linked to a junket operator dealing with Philippine casinos, as alleged in the Inquirer report. The Inquirer had said the funds under investigation were in the name of a Macau-based client of the junket operator.
The casino venues mentioned as the conduits for allegedly illicit cash were: City of Dreams Manila, operated by a unit of Melco Crown Entertainment Ltd; Solaire Resort and Casino, developed and run by Bloomberry Resorts Corp; and Midas Hotel and Casino, majority-owned by Leisure and Resorts World Corp.
On Thursday, a spokeswoman for Melco Crown told GGRAsia by email that “City of Dreams Manila does not utilise the facilities of RCBC [Rizal Commercial Banking Corp] for its banking requirements. Also, City of Dreams Manila has no knowledge of the transactions described in the said news report.”
The Philippine Star – quoting sources it did not identify – said that the bank had suspended what the media outlet referred to as the manager of the bank’s Makati branch, while an investigation took place. That branch was allegedly used to funnel the funds into the Philippines.
The country’s casino regulator, the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp (Pagcor), was indirectly quoted in the report as saying the investigation should focus on banks because the suspicious funds entered the Philippines through the banks.
“There are safeguards in place,” Cristino Naguiat, chairman of Pagcor, was directly quoted as saying, adding Pagcor would cooperate with any investigation on the matter.
Mr Naguiat said casino operators in the Philippines were responsible for implementing ‘know your customer’ rules such as requiring passports and proper identification from players.
He added Pagcor was not against proposals to include casinos in the coverage of the country’s Anti-Money Laundering Act.
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