The Philippine National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) has warned that people gambling at the country’s casinos should be wary of people not linked to casino managements that approach them offering loans. Taking up such offers could lead to people being kidnapped and held by loan sharks pending repayment, the government’s Philippine News Agency reported on Friday, citing the bureau.
The NBI’s warning followed a recent crackdown on an operation – reportedly involving five Chinese nationals and a Filipino-Chinese – that allegedly abducted three Chinese and detained them against their will in a “hotel room in Parañaque City” for claimed failure to repay their gambling loans.
Citing the bureau’s investigation, the government reported that the victims were asked to pay in aggregate PHP7 million (US$134,617), an amount that represented “the principal and interest of a casino loan for PHP1.5 million”.
The arrests of three of the alleged abductors – identified as Chinese nationals Junrong Jia, Xuejian Li and Quijin Tian – were made on May 31 by NBI officers, at which time they also rescued the three Chinese debtors, according to Philippine’s media reports. The apprehended people faced criminal complaints for kidnapping and violation of the Philippines’ Access Devices Regulation Act of 1998.
Vicente de Guzman, deputy director of the NBI, was cited by media reports as mentioning that the three Chinese alleged victims were lured to go casino gambling in the Philippines with the promise of getting funded for their play.
The victims were then ordered to call their families in China when they failed to repay their gambling loans, the NBI deputy director noted.
Three other suspects in the case – identified as Peter Lim Santos, Wang Liping and Au Pang Liang – were also arrested for an alleged attempt to bribe some NBI officers with an offer of PHP1 million in exchange for the release of Junrong Jia, Xuejian Li and Quijin Tian, Philippine media outlets reported.
The bribery-related arrests were reportedly made amid an “entrapment operation” when Peter Lim Santos, Wang Liping and Au Pang Liang allegedly handed over PHP570,000 as “initial payment” to NBI agents.
Gaming-related loan-sharking and illegal detention has been a constant target for Macau police operation.
According to latest available information from Macau’s Secretary of Security office, the local authorities recorded an aggregate of 128 of gambling-related cases of suspected usury in the first three months of this year, up 25.5 percent from the prior-year period. Cases of suspected unlawful detention linked to usury increased by 37.3 percent year-on-year to 81 cased in the opening three months of 2019.
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