Manila, Philippines (BBN)– The Senate has tapped the International Criminal Police Organization (Interpol) to track down two Chinese casino operators allegedly involved in bringing in $81 million hacked from the Bangladesh Bank in February.
Sen. Sergio Osmeña III, chairman of the Senate committee on banks and financial institutions, said the Senate has started coordinating with Interpol to track down Beijing-based Gao Sua Hua and Macau-based Ding Zhie Zi, reports the Philippine Star.
“They were the ones who laundered money. They should face the Senate and answer why and how they received the money. Let’s see if their testimonies will jibe (with other witnesses),” the senator said.
Apart from Gao and Ding, authorities are also looking for Weikang Xu, who has yet to be cleared by the Senate despite clarification by Solaire Resort and Hotel Casino that he was mistakenly named as the recipient of the laundered money.
Michael and Salud Bautista, owners of the Philippine Remittance Service Group (Philrem), have maintained that they delivered the initial P600 million and an additional $18 million to Xu.
“Weikang Xu is waiting to be found,” Osmeña said.
The Baustistas mentioned the name of Chinese junket operator Kam Sin Wong alias Kim Wong during the third hearing of the Senate Blue Ribbon committee last week.
It was Wong who later identified Gao and Ding as the ones who brought the money using Rizal Commercial Banking Corp. (RCBC) and the casinos.
Wong had returned $4.63 million to the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC).
Sens. Ralph Recto and Osmeña are expecting to uncover new information and evidence as the Senate conducts another public hearing on Tuesday.
Recto said they could track down as much as $30 million more of the stolen money.
“We are continuing the hearings so that they will be pressured to return the money,” Osmeña said.
He noted that the Solaire management had vowed to return to the government about P100 million seized from junket operators after it was learned that they were recipients of the “Bangladesh hot money.”
He added that he would seek further clarification on the $17 million which Philrem said it turned over to Xu and Wong. But Wong maintained that the amount remained with Philrem.
“Not everybody is telling the truth,” Osmeña said.
After the Senate wraps up its probe, the senator said the findings of the Blue Ribbon committee would be sent to the National Bureau of Investigation.
“We can give opinion and recommendation to the Department of Justice and the NBI,” he said.
The Senate findings will help bolster current charges being leveled against sacked RCBC Jupiter branch manager Maia Santos-Deguito, Xu and Wong.
The AMLC had earlier announced that more charges were being readied against seven personalities.