Raps filed vs. two businessmen in $81-M money laundering scandal
The government on Tuesday filed criminal charges against two businessmen in connection with a scheme to launder $81 million from the Bangladesh Bank at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
In a joint complaint-affidavit, the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) charged Kam Sin Wong alias Kim Wong and Weikang Xu with violation of Section 4(a) and (b) of the Anti-Money Laundering Act, as amended.
According to the AMLC, Xu is a Chinese national and casino junket operator staying as a guest at the Solaire Resort and Casino in Parañaque City.
Four bank accounts under fictitious names were opened on May 15, 2015 at the Rizal Commericial Banking Corp. (RCBC) Jupiter branch in Makati by bank manager Maia Deguito allegedly upon the referral of Wong.
Deguito allegedly facilitated the money transfers involving the Bangladesh funds to the four accounts last February.
Another account under the name of William So Go was opened on February 1, 2016. This was where the money from the four “spurious” account were allegedly transferred.
Go had already testified in a Senate Blue Ribbon Committee hearing to disown the dollar account maintained at the RCBC Jupiter branch, including a peso account opened in July 2014.
All the fund that were credited into Go’s account were later transferred to the account of PhilRem Service Corp., a remittance company, maintained at RCBC-Unimart Greenhills.
From February 5 to 11, 2016, PhilRem transferred P1,373,474,850.77 to Bloomberry Resorts and Hotel, Inc. Solaire’s corporate secretary would later testify before the Senate that the amount was transferred to the account of Xu.
“Investigation disclosed that the funds transferred to Solaire were converted into non-negotiable chips which was then issued to regular casino players,” read the complaint.
Wong is the president and general manager of Eastern Hawaii Leisure Company Limited, a company organized in Hong Kong and operating in Cagayan Economic Processing Zone.
The AMLC said an investigation it had conducted revealed that PhilRem transferred P1 billion to Eastern Hawaii Leisure Company, Ltd’s Philippine National Bank account.
Wong then reportedly made withdrawals amounting to P900,475,000.00 from February 10 to 26, 2016. He also made a fund transfer/deposit to his personal PNB account on February 10, and a cash withdrawal of P400 million on February 11 from his personal PNB account.
In a statement, Wong’s counsel Victor Fernandez questioned the timing of the filing of cases.
“The timing of the case filing is suspicious. It is our impression that some very powerful people are afraid of what our client will disclose that’s why a premature case was filed against him by AMLC. They probably think that filing the case will deter our client from coming home and testifying before the Senate. They are wrong,” Fernandez said.
The lawyer said he was surprised that a criminal complaint was filed against Wong based solely on Deguito’s testimony during the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee’s inquiry.
“The investigation is still ongoing yet the AMLC used the transcript of stenographic notes as their only basis for the complaint. Why is the AMLC in such a hurry?” Fernandez asked.
Fernandez said Wong returned to the country last Sunday from Singapore, where the junket casino operator underwent medical treatment, and is “ready and willing to testify” once the Senate investigation resumes on March 29.
The AMLC filed last week a similar complaint against Deguito and four John Does who owned the spurious accounts at RCBC Jupiter.