SOME of the money stolen from the Bangladesh Bank had been returned but Bangladesh Ambassador to Manila John Gomes is not happy that his country still cannot get hold of the cash surrendered by junket operator Kam Sin Wong, alias Kim Wong, to the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC).
Gomes, who was present during the resumption on Tuesday of the Senate blue ribbon committee hearing on the $81 million money-laundering scandal, was disappointed after learning that he still could not send the money back to Bangladesh.
The envoy said he and AMLC officials signed a receipt after Wong surrendered $4.63 million last week to the council.
He added that he witnessed the counting of the money expecting that it will be turned over to them immediately.
“It’s not very clear to me because we were moving ahead with the recovery of some other amounts and now this has come up so we will discuss tomorrow and I’m sure that this matter will be resolved,” Gomes said in an interview with reporters.
Senator Teofisto Guingona 3rd admitted that the Bangladesh ambassador was not happy because there is a process that needs to be followed before the money can be turned over to Bangladesh.
He explained that the money will be given to the Bangladesh government if Wong will issue a written consent.
“In the absence of a written consent, the turnover needs to undergo a process and the AMLC will have to file a civil forfeiture case in court,” Guingona said.
On Monday, Wong surrendered an additional P38.28 million to the council.
On Monday, Wong told senators that he will also return P450 million.
He, however, said he would need 15 to 30 days to prepare the money because he has to borrow funds from his friends.
The junket operator said he received the amount from Chinese businessman Shuhua Gao as payment for the latter’s debt to him.
Meanwhile, remittance firm Philrem insisted that it no longer has in its possession the $17 million that was part of the $81 million laundered in the country.
Wong, in his testimony, said $17 million of the money is still with Philrem, the remittance company that delivered the money to junket player Weikang Xu, Wong and Solaire and Midas casinos.
Michael Bautista, owner of Philrem, said they delivered the entire amount to the recipients.
“There is no $17 million with us, we’ve been answering the question since the beginning and we’re ready to take the hits. . . [and]we’ve already accepted that fact that this transaction is a mistake,” Bautista added.
But Guingona censured Philrem for its contradicting statements.
“You have a lot of explaining to do, because hearing after hearing after hearing, you have been saying that you delivered P600 million and $18 million to Weikang Xu in Solaire, and you also said that Wong was present when the money was picked [up]from your house. You have contradicted yourself, I think you shouldn’t add to your problems by giving false testimony,” he said.
According to PhilRem, they transferred P600 million and $18 million in six tranches, the first delivered to Solaire by their messengers and the five others were picked up from Bautista’s house.