The Philippines’ casino regulator, the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp (Pagcor), has said preliminary findings of an inquiry into alleged money laundering indicate only one of the country’s large-scale casino resorts was caught up in it, according to a media report.
The Philippine Daily Inquirer, which broke the original story of the laundering allegations, quoted in a Friday report “a ranking official” of Pagcor – that it didn’t name – as saying US$46 million of a reported US$81 million in stolen Bangladeshi funds that entered the Philippines found its way into the local casino industry.
“The rest of the funds never entered the local casino system. So, we don’t know where those funds went,” the official was reported as saying.
The Pagcor official was indirectly quoted as saying the US$46 million was split into a US$26-million tranche channelled via Solaire Resort and Casino, a Manila property operated by Bloomberry Resorts Corp; and a US$20-million tranche directed to accounts of Eastern Hawaii Casino and Resort within the Cagayan Economic Zone Authority area in Santa Ana, Cagayan province.
There was no suggestion in Friday’s Daily Inquirer report that the casinos named were complicit in any improper movement of funds.
Leo Venezuela, director of investor relations for Bloomberry Resorts, had said in an email to GGRAsia on Thursday the company had “no comment at this time” ahead of an official investigation.
There was no mention in Friday’s Daily Inquirer report of any money being routed via City of Dreams Manila, a casino resort operated by a unit of Melco Crown Entertainment Ltd, or via Midas Hotel and Casino, a Manila property majority-owned by Leisure and Resorts World Corp. Both those venues had also been mentioned in that connection in the Daily Inquirer story of February 29 that first reported the laundering allegations.
The Pagcor official quoted in Friday’s report said the US$46 million was ordered frozen on March 1 by the country’s Court of Appeals acting on a request by the Anti-Money Laundering Council.
Before the order was issued, the funds were being used for betting at Solaire’s and at Eastern Hawaii’s casino tables, the official said.
The original Daily Inquirer story had suggested the stolen cash might have entered the Philippines via a Makati, Manila, branch of Rizal Commercial Banking Corp (RCBC). Friday’s story made no mention of the bank.
Business news outlet Bloomberg on Thursday quoted a statement from RCBC’s chief executive, Lorenzo Tan, condemning “any insinuations that the top management of the bank knew of and tolerated alleged money laundering activities in one branch.”
On March 3, a spokeswoman for Melco Crown told GGRAsia by email “City of Dreams Manila does not utilise the facilities of RCBC for its banking requirements. Also, City of Dreams Manila has no knowledge of the transactions described in the said news report.”
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