One of the people allegedly connected to a US$81-million money laundering case in the Philippines – a saga whereby some of the money reportedly found its way into the country’s casino sector – has turned over cash totalling PHP200 million (US$4.3 million) to the Philippine Anti-Money Laundering Council.
Kam Sin Wong – also known as Kim Wong – returned the money on Monday for “safekeeping”, Anti-Money Laundering Council executive director Julia Bacay-Abad said at a Senate’s hearing on the matter, according to media reports.
The Senate hearing is seeking to find out how the 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.
According to the country’s Anti-Money Laundering Council, of the US$81 million in stolen funds, US$63 million allegedly found its way collectively into the Midas Hotel and Casino in Manila, a property majority-owned by Leisure and Resorts World Corp; and Solaire Resort and Casino in Entertainment City, Manila, a property developed and operated by Bloomberry Resorts Corp. There the money mostly vanished in exchange for gaming chips.
There is no suggestion that the managements of those casinos were involved in the allegedly illegal transfers or had knowledge of them.
Agents of two Macau-based junket operators have been mentioned as the recipients of part of the funds.
Mr Wong previously has been described as a president and general manager of Eastern Hawaii Leisure Co Ltd, a casino operator in the northern Philippines. He has also been identified in some media reports as a casino junket agent.
Mr Wong allegedly received PHP450 million from casino junket operator Gao Shuhua as payment for the latter’s casino losses. The funds reportedly were part of the money stolen from the Bangladesh central bank accounts.
Mr Wong said he would try to turn over the remaining PHP250 million by the end of the month.
A total of PHP38.28 million, and U.S. dollar bills amounting to US$4.63 million – reportedly abandoned by Mr Gao – had been earlier turned over by Mr Wong to the Philippine Anti-Money Laundering Council also for “safekeeping”.
The whereabouts of Mr Gao are currently unknown, according to several local media outlets.
The case has led to renewed calls on the Philippine authorities to ensure that the country’s casinos are covered by anti-money laundering legislation.
The exclusion of casinos from anti-money laundering obligations contained specifically in the country’s Anti-Money Laundering Act was at the request of some lawmakers and the country’s gaming regulator, the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp, also known as Pagcor, said Senator Teofisto Guingona in February 2013, following the approval of some revisions to the 2001 act.
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Analyst at Roth Capital Partners