Philippine Senate sets hearings for the Bangladeshi funds case

The sessions regarding the investigation and anti-money laundering policies begin this week.
The sessions regarding the investigation and anti-money laundering policies begin this week.

Pagcor chairman and casino operators have been invited to the Senate to help lawmakers clarify how stolen funds ended up in Philippine casinos’ accounts.

The Philippines.- After a portion of US$81 million allegedly stolen from Bangladesh’s central bank account in the Federal Reserve Bank of New York  found its way into Philippines casinos, the Senate of Philippines invited the chairman of the Philippine gaming regulator and executives from several of the country’s casino resorts to the hearings. Lawmakers expect that Pagcor chairman and casino operators may help to clarify how the funds ended up entering the Philippine banking system through Rizal Commercial Banking Corp (RCBC) and ultimately channeled to Solaire Resort and Casino and Easter Hawaii Casino and Resort accounts.

Among those invited to assist the Senate are Cristino Naguiat, chairman and chief executive of the casino regulator, the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp (Pagcor,) Thomas Arasi, president and CEO of Solaire Resort and Casino Manila, operated by Bloomberry Resorts Corp, Reynaldo Bantug, chairman, president and CEO of Leisure and Resorts World Corp, the majority owner of Midas Hotel and Casino and Clarence Chung Yuk Man, chairman and president of Melco Crown (Philippines) Resorts Corp, operator of the City of Dreams Manila casino resort.

The Philippine casino regulator earlier in March reported an ongoing investigation on at least three casinos in the country, suspected to be part of a money laundering scheme, although Pagcor later said preliminary findings indicated only one of the country’s large-scale casino resorts was actually involved.

The Philippines’ Anti-Money Laundering Council is preparing charges against a number of people allegedly involved in the illegal transfer of funds from the Bangladesh central bank to accounts in the Philippines. On Friday, Philippine immigration authorities prevented a manager of the Makati City branch of the Rizal Commercial Banking Corp (RCBC) from leaving the country.