Philippine junket operator testifies in US$81 million heist

Kim Wong received part of the funds as gambling deposits and debt payment from two Chinese nationals.

The Philippines.- Kim Wong, a Philippine gambling junket operator told the Philippine Senate during a hearing held today (Tuesday) that he acted as interpreter when one of the two men asked the manager of a Rizal Commercial Banking Corp. branch to open the accounts where the money was channeled to. According to his declarations, he received US$4.6 million as gambling funds lodged in his company and another 450 million pesos (US$9.7 million) as debt payment from one of the men he identified as a business associate.

The amount is part of the largest bank heists in history, as hackers tried to stole nearly US$1 billion from the Bangladeshi Central Bank’s account in New York Federal Reserve Bank managing to transfer only US$ 81 million through the RCBC to at least two Philippine casinos where the money trail was lost. Of the US$81 million, US$63 million went to the Midas and Solaire casinos, and the remaining US$18 million was wired to the remittance company, Philrem Service Corp. The hackers managed to channel another US$20 million to a Sri Lankan bank, but this amount was recovered.

“I had nothing to do with the actual opening of accounts. Two foreigners facilitated the entry of the funds to the Philippines. One of them has been in and out of the Philippines for a long time already,” Wong claimed at the hearing. “I had nothing to do with the falsification of bank documents so the money could get in, and I don’t know where the US$81 million came from.”

Wong identified one of the men as a junket operator from Beijing, whom he has known for about eight years. Through him, Wong met the other man, a Macau junket operator who promised Wong that he would bring casino players to Manila. Maia Santos Deguito, Rizal Bank branch manager, had been trying to convince him of opening an account at her branch, said Wong.