BSP confirms POGO auditor submitted invalid documents

The audit firm hired by PAGCOR is under scrutiny.
The audit firm hired by PAGCOR is under scrutiny.

The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) has confirmed that the auditor does not operate in the Philippines.

The Philippines.- Senator Sherwin Gatchalian says he has received confirmation that the auditor hired by PAGOR to audit POGOs submitted invalid documents. He says a letter from Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) governor Felipe Medalla quotes Soleil Capitale CEO Raj Astavakra as stating that Global ComRCI’s affiliate bank is based abroad and does not operate in the Philippines.

The legitimacy of Global ComRCI, a third-party auditor contracted by the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp (PAGCOR) in 2017 to audit the Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGOs), came into question after a January hearing by the Committee on Ways and Means, which was chaired by Gatchalian. 

During the hearing, PAGCOR presented a bank guarantee allegedly issued by Soleil in favour of Global ComRCI for PHP1.3bn (US$25m). However, the BSP letter points out discrepancies in the bank certification, including the logo used in the document.

Gatchalian said it was clear that Global ComRCI had submitted a false bank certificate to PAGCOR. He questioned the legitimacy of the contract and the credibility of Global ComRCI to conduct a third-party audit of POGO gaming revenues.

On February 1, the regulator issued a statement saying: “[PAGCOR would] like to reiterate that since the assumption of its new management in August 2022, all contracts – including that of Global ComRCI – were put under review last September 2022.

“Should PAGCOR be able to prove that the documents submitted were spurious, it will immediately take legal action and cancel the contract of its third-party auditor, if found warranted.”

Gatchalian has previously accused the regulator of having little knowledge of POGO’s businesses. Speaking in favour of banning POGOs, he has said that they contribute PHP34.68bn a year to the country – 1 per cent of GDP – and that losing this could be mitigated by attracting BPO companies, which could take up office space left by gaming operators.

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