Tuesday, July 16

Philippines businessman to return BB $10.8m



Businessman Kim Wong admitted during a Senate hearing today that US$21.6 million of the funds allegedly stolen from the Bank of Bangladesh went to his company but said he is willing to return half of the amount.

“Yung P1 billion, nasa Eastern Hawaii casino, nandoon po, at may P550 million natitira po,” Wong said when he testified at the Senate blue ribbon committee’s ongoing investigation into the alleged $81 million or about P4 billion money laundering scheme.

Wong was referring to his company, Eastern Hawaii Leisure Co. Ltd., which operates a hotel-casino complex at the Cagayan Special Economic Zone.

He said P550 million was already converted into chips and played in the casino, and only more than P40 million of the amount was left.

“Na-freeze na po ‘yung P40 million,” Wong told the committee.

He said the remaining P450 million of the P1 billion went to him as debt payment of junket operator, Shuhua Gao, but if proven that it came from illegal activities, he said, he would also return it to the Bangladesh government.

Aside from the more than P40 million balance and the P450 debt payment to him, Wong also volunteered to return the $4.63 million cash that he picked up from the house of Michael Bautista of Philrem Service Corporation, a remittance company allegedly used to remit the stolen funds to its beneficiaries.

“Meron pa akong isang pera pa, nandyan cash US $4.63 million,” he said.

“Anytime, pwede kong dalhin dito; iutos niyo lang sa akin,” the businessman added.

Solaire Resort and Casino Manila through Silverio Benny Tan also confirmed that P1.365 billion of the alleged stolen funds were transferred from Philrem’s BDO account to Solaire’s BDO account.

Tan said they had already frozen the Solaire account, but the money that was left was only P107 million.

“We confirm, we’ve frozen the account and we’re awaiting for proper court order on how they will be disposed of,” he said.

Tan said the total amount which remained in the account when they stopped the play of the group of another junket operator, Ding Zhize, last March 10 was only P107 million, aside from the P1.347 million cash.

Wong earlier named Gao and Ding as the two Chinese businessmen, whom he said had brought the stolen funds into the Philippines through Rizal Commercial Banking Corporation.