Pagcor defends casinos
Cristino Naguiat Jr., head of the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (Pagcor), on Friday defended the gaming industry, saying it was not true that casinos were the easiest place to launder money.
Talking to reporters on Friday, Naguiat said the fact that junket operator Kim Wong returned $4.63 million, which was part of the $81 million stolen by hackers from the Bangladesh government last month, showed that money in the gaming industry could easily be traced and thus cannot be part of the intricate web of money laundering.
“As you can see, it is only the casino that was able to produce the money, was able to pinpoint people, because we are able to monitor everything. The others are under the bank secrecy land and the AMLA (Anti-Money Laundering Act),” Naguiat said, referring to the banks involved in the high-tech heist.
Naguiat said he was agreeable to including casinos under AMLA coverage.
He said the Pagcor management had “encouraged” Wong to voluntarily return the $4.63 million to the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC).
There was constant dialogue between Pagcor and the casinos as a “way to protect the industry,” he added.
“This is their livelihood,” Naguiat said referring to the casino owners and junket operators. “So they have to protect their livelihood and we have to protect the industry. Everybody agrees to open their books.”
Naguiat said Pagcor already had an “inkling” that Wong would turn over the money to AMLC because “we were able to pinpoint” that the fund was with the businessman.
On Thursday, Wong, through his lawyer, returned the money in cold cash which took staffers of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas two and a half hours to count using three counting machines.