Casino execs snub Senate on RCBC case

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EXECUTIVES of the three casinos where the $81 million stolen from Bangladesh was laundered are not likely to show up at the Senate which is investigating the bank heist.

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The casino officials are among the 17 resource persons invited by the Senate blue ribbon committee who did not confirm their attendance in today’s inquiry.

Of the 32 resource persons invited, only 15 said they will attend the hearing.

The blue ribbon panel headed by Sen. Teofisto Guingona 3rd invited 32 resource persons including Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) Gov. Amado Tetangco Jr.; Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (Pagcor) Chairman Cristino Naguiat Jr.; and the presidents of Solaire Resorts and Casino, Midas Hotel and Casino and City of Dreams Casino.

As of Monday afternoon, the officials have not confirmed their attendance.

It was learned that instead of Tetangco, BSP Officer-in-Charge Nesto Espenilla Jr. will attend the hearing while Pagcor president Eugene Manalastas will be representing Naguiat.

Solaire Resorts president Thomas Arasi and Reynaldo Bantug of Midas Hotel and Casino also did not confirm their attendance while Clarence Chung, of the City of Dreams, said he will be sending his lawyer, Jomini Nazareno, to represent him.

The presence of the casino heads is crucial in the hearing because the blue ribbon committee wants know the role played by the casinos in the heist.

Senator Sergio Osmena 3rd, in a recent interview, said he wanted the casino officials to explain why the money disappeared without a trace.

Based on testimonies of resource persons in the previous hearings, $28.7 million was transferred to Solaire casino.

The money was later transferred to Weikang Xu, a Chinese junket operator.

“Something like this is not given to the junketer because there is no junket. This is stolen money. It doesn’t belong to any rich Chinese gambler or Korean gambler or Japanese gambler,” Osmena said.

Xu was not on the list of invited resource persons.

Kam Sin Wong alias Kim Wong was invited but he will also be sending his lawyer, Victor Fernandez.

Wong, based on a complaint filed by the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) at the Department of Justice (DOJ), received $21.6 million through his firm Eastern Hawaii Leisure Company Limited and transferred most of the amount to his personal account at the Philippine National Bank (PNB).

Wong’s name appeared as the incorporator of Eastern Hawaii, a company that operates a hotel-casino at the Cagayan Special Economic Zone.

Among those who confirmed their attendance in today’s hearing were former Rizal Commercial Banking Corp. (RCBC) Jupiter Branch manager Maia Santos-Deguito and her assistant Angela Ruth Torres.

Both are facing money-laundering complaints at the DOJ.

RCBC president Lorenzo Tan will also be attending the hearing, along with other bank officials namely Ma. Fe Salamatin, head of the Compliance Unit, and Maria Celia Estavillo, head of the Legal and Regulatory Affairs Group.

The other resource persons who confirmed their attendance were Reynaldo Maclang, PNB president; Alvin Go, head and chief legal counsel of BDO Unibank Inc.; and Rebecca Torres, chief of the Compliance Office of BDO.

Salud Bautista, president of Philrem Service Corp., and Bansan Choa, CEO of I-Remit will also be attending the inquiry.

Businessman William So Go, the alleged owner of the bank account at RCBC Jupiter Branch where most of the stolen money was deposited, will also be present, as well as the head of the Insurance Commission, Emmanuel Dooc, AMLC Executive Director Julia Bacay-Abad and senatorial candidate Susan “Toots” Ople.

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2 Comments

  1. A waste of time and effort for the Senate because all they can do investigate in aid of legislation. File the appropriate charges in court!

  2. unemloyed bum on

    The hell with invitations, serve them with “subpoena”, and show them that the Philippine Congress is a mighty institution! I think majority of the Senate investigating panels are lawyers and know their constitutional mandates. Otherwise, both houses need to go back to the drawing board and create better legislations.

    These casino “executives” are the main players of this illegal money transaction, in coordination with the RCBC Owner, president, and the people who did the legwork. The ALMC is involved on this one as well. Big time criminals, drug lords, money launderers, smugglers, have all political “padrinos” that make them untouchables. They are making mockery to the broken Philippine Justice System. It seems like the whole Philippine government is corrupted and this country is now or has been a lawless state.