Kim Wong completes turnover of $15M to AMLC
MANILA, Philippines – Casino junket agent Kam Sin "Kim" Wong has completed the promised turnover of about $15 million to the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) – an amount that is said to be part of the stolen funds from Bangladesh Bank's account in downtown Manhattan.
Wong told reporters on Wednesday, May 4, that his camp turned over the last tranche of the P450 million he promised to return during the April 5 Senate Blue Ribbon Committee hearing.
"May 5 po ang huling araw ng 30 days na hiningi kong palugit sa Senate Blue Ribbon Committee para isauli ang P450 million. Kaya po ngayon, isang araw bago ang deadline, ay isinasauli ko na po ang kakulangang P250 million," Wong said in a separate statement.
(May 5 is the last day of the 30-day period I requested from the Blue Ribbon Committee to be able to raise and return the funds. Today, one day before that deadline, I'm turning over the balance of P250 million.)
In total, Wong was able to turn over $4.63 million and P488 million ($10.37 million) to AMLC for safekeeping in its headquarters at the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP). (READ: How Bangladesh Bank dirty money easily got into PH)
Wong said this represents the entire amount his firm Eastern Hawaii Leisure Company Limited possessed from the $81-million laundered funds, which was initially coursed through the Rizal Commercial Banking Corporation (RCBC).
The casino junket agent had told the Senate that Eastern Hawaii got hold of P1 billion or $21.57 million. But a portion of that went through gaming tables and was lost to Midas Hotel and Casino. (READ: Kim Wong returns another P38.28M to AMLC)
With a little help from friends and Solaire
Wong's lawyer, Kristoffer James Purisima, went to the BSP headquarters on Wednesday afternoon to turn over the P250 million.
The P250-million cold cash was in P1000 and P500 bills, placed inside 9 large plastic bags. This was confirmed by AMLC, which also said that the counting took nearly 3 hours.
"Hindi po naging madali ang pagbuo ng halagang ito," Wong said.
(Raising this amount wasn't easy.)
Acknowledging his current predicament, Wong said his willing friends and Solaire Resort and Casino helped him raise the roughly $15-million that he returned to AMLC.
"Marami po akong kaibigan na tumulong sa akin para mai-raise ang pera. 'Yung unang P200 million na sinauli ko ay galing po sa Solaire. Ito po ay dati kong binayad sa utang ko sa kanila, pero pinahiram ulit nila sa akin," he added.
(I have well-meaning friends who helped me raise the funds. The first P200 million came from Solaire. I paid the casino earlier for a debt and they lent me the same amount again.)
Although some of the funds have been returned to AMLC, Bangladesh Ambassador to the Philippines John Gomes earlier said the turnover of the stolen money to the Bangladesh government "will take a little time."
According to Philippine laws, without written consent from Wong, the recourse would have to be a civil forfeiture case in court.
Philippine senators also urged the operators of Midas Hotel and Casino as well as Solaire Resort and Casino to return the dirty money to Bangladesh Bank.
Of the stolen money, Wong said that about $63 million went to Solaire and Midas, while the remaining $17 million is supposedly still with PhilRem Services Corporation – a claim denied by the company's officers.
'Doing business has been difficult'
Wong, who was tagged by Senator Sergio Osmeña III as a possible "major player" in the elaborately planned heist, is facing a criminal complaint and a civil forfeiture case filed by AMLC. (READ: TIMELINE: Tracing the $81-million stolen fund from Bangladesh Bank)
AMLC said in its criminal complaint that Wong violated the Anti-Money Laundering Act of 2001 for his involvement in the heist.
Last month, AMLC also filed a civil forfeiture case on the assets of the casino junket agent.
As most of his personal and corporate accounts were frozen, Wong said doing business has been difficult.
But Wong said he takes comfort in the fact that his patrons remained loyal and that his reputation as a casino junket agent has remained intact.
After turning over the laundered funds in his possession, Wong said he will move on, concentrate on growing his business, and face court cases.
"Magko-concentrate po ako sa negosyo at haharapin ang mga kaso katulong ang aking mga abugado," the casino junket agent added.
(I will concentrate on my businesses and face my court cases with the help of my lawyers.)
"Papatunayan po namin na wala akong kinalaman sa money laundering at hindi ko po alam kung saan nagmula ang pera. Kasi po kami sa casino ay hindi nagtatanong kung saan galing ang pera ng mga players," Wong also said.
(We will prove that I have nothing to do with the money laundering scheme and that I don't know where the funds came from. In the casinos, we don't ask where the players' money came from.) – Rappler.com