Senate President-Pro Tempore Ralph Recto appealed to owners of Philrem Corp. to do a Kim Wong and surrender whatever portion of the stolen money that still remains with the company.
Kam Sin Wong, also known as Kim Wong, turned over $4.6 million to the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) on Thursday night.
“The return of $4.6 million is a good start that augurs well in our quest to return the stolen money to its rightful owner, the Bangladesh people,” Recto said on Friday.
“Siguro naman, susunod na ang Philrem at magsasauli na rin ng pera sa AMLC. Lahat ng pwede nilang isauli, dapat maibalik lahat sa Bangladesh (I hope Philrem will also return the money to the AMLC. They should turn over all the money so that it can be returned to Bangladesh),” Recto said.
He expressed optimism that Wong’s return of a portion of the $81 million stolen by hackers will pave the way for the recovery of the rest of the money.
Recto said as much as $34.86 million could be recovered from local corporations based on testimonies made in three hearings conducted by the Senate.
Aside from the $4.6 million, Wong is also willing to return the P450 million received by his company Eastern Hawaii Leisure Ltd. Co.
He told senators that $17 million of the money is still with Philrem, the remittance company that delivered the money to junket player Weikang Xu, Wong, Solaire and Midas casinos.
Philrem officials, however, denied that it still has the money.
Senator Vicente Sotto 3rd said Philrem should explain why the money had to go through the remittance firm when all the necessary process could have been done by the Rizal Commercial Banking Corp.
“There are rumors that they [Philrem] have sent it [$17 million] abroad. I asked them, they denied. I’m sure the AMLC knows and RCBC knows the answer,” Sotto added.
The senator said Wong’s decision to turn over $4.63 million to the AMLC may not be enough to save him from possible prosecution.
Sotto added that Wong’s surrender of a portion of the stolen money may be a mitigating circumstance but it will not erase the fact that the Anti-Money Laundering Act was violated.
“He and the rest could still be liable for being facilitators. Now it’s up to him to prove that he did not know where that came from and it is illegal money,” the senator explained.
Wong, through his legal counsel Inocencio Ferrer Jr., turned over the money to AMLC member and Insurance Commissioner Emmanuel Dooc, Executive Director Julia Abad and officials of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas on Thursday night.
But Sotto said that even if Wong can prove that he did not know where the money came, he can still be held liable because he admitted during a hearing of the Senate blue ribbon committee that he introduced Chinese businessman Shuhua Gao to Maia Santos-Deguito, the manager of the RCBC Jupiter Branch in Makati City (Metro Manila).
Daguito, according to Wong, helped Gao open four fictitious bank accounts that were later used in the transfer of the $81 million stolen by hackers from the Bangladesh Central Bank.