PhilRem, Kim Wong differ on missing $17-M Bangladesh Bank funds
MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Although Chinese casino junket agent Kam Sin “Kim" Wong and the owners of money transfer firm PhilRem Service Corporation said they have known each other for quite a while now, they differed on claims about where the unaccounted $17-million stolen fund from Bangladesh Bank may have gone.
Of the $81 million stolen money from the Bangladesh central bank, about $63 million went to Solaire and Midas casinos, while the remaining $17 million is said to be still with PhilRem – a claim denied by its officers.
Wong vehemently denied any link to the money laundering scandal, telling senators he does not know where the $81 million came from.
“Dalawang foreigners ang nagpasok ng $81 million. Isa sa kanila ay matagal nang labas-pasok sa Pilipinas at kilalang junket agent at high roller… Ilalagay ko sa isang sealed envelope ang kanilang pangalan at kopya ng passport at isa-submit ko sa komite," Wong told the Senate.
(Two foreigners brought the $81 million in the country. One of them has been in and out of the country and is a popular junket agent and high roller. I will write their names and put it in a sealed envelope, with a copy of their passport and will submit it to the committee.)
He eventually was prodded to name one of them as a certain "Gao Shuhua", a Beijing-based junket agent whom he has known since 2007. Wong said he met Gao in Solaire Resort and Casino in February.
According to Wong, Gao wanted to invest in junket operations in Manila and that a certain "Ding Zhize" from Macau wanted to do the same. The two asked to meet Wong in Solaire on February 5.
On the same day, Wong narrated that Rizal Commercial Banking Corporation (RCBC) branch manager Maia Santos-Deguito called him to say that funds which totaled $81 million had arrived at the bank. A total of P100 million was eventually delivered to Solaire by PhilRem and Deguito whose car was photographed by a CCTV camera in the Solaire parking lot.
Wong made his first appearance before the Senate during its 3rd hearing on the grand Bangladesh Bank fund heist on Tuesday, March 29, after his medical treatment in Singapore.
Asked if he knows the owners of PhilRem personally, Wong replied: “Kilala ko si Concon (PhilRem treasurer Michael Bautista) personally. Magkakilala kami sa pag-refer ng kotse (I know Concon personally. We know each other from referring car models to each other).”
PhilRem: We delivered everything
Bautista confirmed he knows Wong and that the junket agent had visited their house several times, but denied that the $17-million stolen money is still with his company.
“I would like to deny that the $17 million is still with us,” PhilRem president Salud Bautista said, adding that her company has wired all the money to Midas junket operator Weikang Xu.
Baustista had earlier 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.
Meanwhile, Wong admitted that PhilRem transferred a total of P1 billion of the laundered funds to Eastern Hawaii Leisure Company Limited's account with the Philippine National Bank.
Wong is the president and general manager of Eastern Hawaii Leisure Company Limited.
Of the P1 billion, Wong said P550 million was converted into chips, of which P510 million was lost to Midas.
He said the other P450 million was a payment of the debt of Gao.
Wong claimed that he accepted the money, not knowing that the funds were connected to the Bangladesh Bank heist.
Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) executive director Julia Bacay Abad told senators during the hearing that the P40 million remaining from the money converted into chips can still be returned to the Bangladesh Bank.
"If we can identify if the money is still there (in Eastern Hawaii), then we can recover it," Abad said. – with reports from Chrisee Dela Paz and Nile Villa/Rappler.com