Agents of two Macau-based junket operators have been mentioned as the recipients of part of the US$81 million allegedly stolen from Bangladesh’s central bank and transferred to the Philippines, according to media reports on a fourth hearing at the Philippine Senate on Tuesday.
The Senate is seeking to find out how at least US$81 million – that unidentified hackers allegedly stole from Bangladesh central bank accounts held at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York – entered the Philippines and mostly disappeared.
Silverio Benny J. Tan, compliance officer at Bloomberry Resorts Corp – developer and operator of Solaire Resort and Casino in the Philippines’ capital Manila – said at Tuesday’s hearing that about PHP1.37 billion (US$29.65 million) of the allegedly stolen funds are believed to have been transferred to Solaire. Part of that money went to the accounts of Chau Cheok Wa of Suncity Group and Chang Lai Fong of Gold Moon Group, Mr Tan was quoted saying by several media outlets.
A representative of Suncity Group told GGRAsia on Wednesday that the company couldn’t comment on the information disclosed at the Senate’s latest hearing.
At the hearing, lawyers representing Mr Chau and Ms Chang said they would submit a report to the Philippine Senate once they complete accounting for the funds.
Bloomberry’s Mr Tan said the company is willing to return PHP108.7 million it had frozen and confiscated from junket players at the Solaire casino. “We are prepared to turn that over when the court orders us,” Mr Tan reportedly said at the Senate hearing.
The Philippine Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) will ask the courts to direct casinos and junket operators to recover and return as much of the stolen funds as possible to Bangladesh, AMLC’s executive director, Julia Abad, said at the Senate hearing. “We have proof that the money was actually transferred to their accounts,” Ms Abad said, referring to the gaming operators, reported news agency Bloomberg.
Also present at Tuesday’s hearing was Kam Sin Wong – also known as Kim Wong – described as a president and general manager of Eastern Hawaii Leisure Co Ltd, a casino operator in the northern Philippines.
Mr Wong told the hearing that he will return a further PHP450 million to Bangladesh’s central bank this month, several media outlets reported. Mr Wong has already returned nearly US$5.5 million to the AMLC for safekeeping, which the Philippine central bank will return to its Bangladesh counterpart.
Mr Wong told the senate hearing last week that he had neither knowledge nor any participation in the entry of allegedly stolen funds to the Philippines via Rizal Commercial Banking Corp. Part of the funds found its way into the Midas Hotel and Casino in Manila, a property majority-owned by Leisure and Resorts World Corp, and Solaire Resort and Casino.
The casino executive blamed two other Chinese men – named as Gao Shu Hua and Ding Zhize – for causing the money to be imported. He said he was willing to return as much as US$14.3 million he received from the two Chinese nationals.
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”Given that the blanket casino closure [in Macau due to Typhoon Mangkhut] happened on an all-important weekend day… we expect that somewhere between MOP1.1 billion [US$136.2 million] and MOP1.5 billion in GGR will be lost”
Analyst at Union Gaming Securities Asia