AMLC sues businessmen linked to Bangladesh Bank fund heist
MANILA, Philippines – The Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) on Tuesday, March 22, filed a criminal complaint before the Department of Justice against two businessmen tagged in the alleged $81-million money laundering scam. (READ: 4 new names emerge at Senate probe into Bangladesh Bank heist)
The two businessmen are:
- Kim Wong, who was tagged by Senator Sergio Osmeña III as a possible “major player" in the elaborately planned heist
- Weikang Xu, a Chinese casino junket operator whose account was allegedly used for the scam
According to the complaint, the two businessmen violated the Anti-Money Laundering Act of 2001 for their involvement in the stolen funds from Bangladesh Bank, which slipped through Rizal Commercial Banking Corporation (RCBC).
AMLC anchored its complaint on the testimony of RCBC Jupiter-Makati branch manager Maia Santos-Deguito before the Senate blue ribbon committee. which is investigating the money laundering scheme.
Deguito earlier testified that Wong made the referral for the opening of the accounts with RCBC Jupiter branch of Michael Francisco Cruz, Jessie Christopher Lagrosas, Alfred Santos Vergara, and Enrico Teodoro Vasquez. They all turned out to be fictitious. (READ: RCBC manager: I'd rather release money than get myself killed’)
Wong is a controversial character linked to past scandals and is one of 6 traders being probed for laundering stolen funds. (READ: How Bangladesh Bank dirty money easily got into PH)
Tan said he met Wong in 2002 in his restaurant. He also said he has not seen Wong "in more than 10 years."
But Deguito said Wong and Tan were both present at Jason Go’s birthday party in the last quarter of 2014.
AMLC learned that on February 10 and 11, PhilRem transferred a total of P1 billion of the laundered Bangladesh bank funds to Eastern Hawaii Leisure Company Limited's account with the Philippine National Bank (PNB).
Wong is the president and general manager of Eastern Hawaii Leisure Company Limited.
Wong's name first cropped up during the administration of President Joseph Estrada, when military intelligence tagged him as a drug lord. Under the government of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, former intelligence chief Victor Corpus linked Wong to then Senator Panfilo Lacson.
AMLC claimed that Wong made withdrawals amounting to P900.47 million from February 10 to February 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.
"Wong knew or should have known that the funds that were remitted/transferred... were part of the stolen funds from Bangladesh Bank, and are therefore proceeds of an unlawful activity," the 9-page complaint read.
Meanwhile, AMLC used the testimony of PhilRem Service Corporation's Salud Bautista to pin Xu in the money laundering activities.
Baustista testified before the Senate committee that "upon instruction of Maia Santos-Deguito," PhilRem personally delivered a total of $18 million and P600 million to Xu.
The delivery was spread over several days from February 5 to February 13, 2016.
AMLC further said that, from February 5 to February 11, 2016, PhilRem transferred P1.37 billion in favor of Bloomberry Resorts and Hotel Incorporated (Solaire).
On March 15, Solaire, through its corporate secretary Silverio Tan, testified before the Senate hearing that the amount transferred by PhilRem was for the account of Xu, a registered casino junket operator.
The AMLC complaint states that the funds transferred to Solaire were converted into non-negotiable chips, which were then issued to regular casino players.
These are enough evidence to charge the two for money laundering, AMLC said.
Both Xu and Wong were unable to attend the Senate hearings last week.
Last March 11, the AMLC filed the first batch of money laundering cases against Deguito and several John Does, aka Michael Francisco Cruz, Jessie Christopher Lagrosas, Alfred Santos Vergara and Enrico Teodoro Vasquez. – Chrisee de la Paz/Rappler.com