Date
24 July 2017
Kim Wong testifies at a Senate hearing. The Chinese junket operator, a long-time Philippine resident, said he will return US$4.63 million of the stolen money. Photo: Internet
Kim Wong testifies at a Senate hearing. The Chinese junket operator, a long-time Philippine resident, said he will return US$4.63 million of the stolen money. Photo: Internet

High-rollers brought in heist cash, says Manila casino agent

Two two high-rollers from Beijing and Macau were responsible for bringing US$81 million stolen by hackers from Bangladesh’s central bank into the Philippines.

The revelation was made by a Chinese junket operator in Manila, Reuters reports.

Kim Wong, a long-time resident of the Philippines, denied any wrongdoing or knowledge of who masterminded one of world’s biggest cyber heists but vowed to give back a small portion of the money with him.

He told a Senate hearing in Manila he would return US$4.63 million in cash to a government watchdog investigating what appears to be a Byzantine money-laundering scheme.

Unidentified hackers infiltrated the computer systems of Bangladesh Bank in early February and tried to steal US$951 million from an account at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York it uses for international settlements.

Many attempted transfers were blocked but US$81 million ended up in casinos in Manila and with junket operators and most of it vanished.

Finding out where it went has sorely challenged the Senate hearing, now on its third day and already hamstrung by the country’s strict banking secrecy and by casinos not covered by anti-money laundering laws.

Wong denied any involvement in the heist but named two Chinese men from Beijing and Macau who he said “brought in” the US$81 million.

“I have nothing to do with the forging of bank documents for the US$81 million. I don’t know the source of the US$81 million,” he said.

One billion pesos (US$21 million) of the stolen funds ended up in a Philippine bank account of Eastern Hawaii, a company run by Wong, according to a criminal complaint filed by the Philippines’ Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC).

Wong said he was owed 450 million pesos by one of the Chinese men after helping him settle a casino debt.

The rest was used to buy gambling chips for junket clients, Wong said.

Wong also said he had received a further US$5 million in stolen money via Philrem, a foreign exchange broker, of which US$4.63 million remained, and which he was willing to return.

An official at Solaire, a casino resort owned and operated by Bloomberry Resorts Corp., told the same hearing that US$29 million ended up with them and was credited to an account of the Macau-based high-roller.

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