Kim Wong vows to ‘tell all’ on $81M money laundering
MANILA — Businessman Kim Wong will face senators on Tuesday to “tell all” and “correct some false testimonies” that were given to the Senate inquiry into the laundering of $81 million stolen from Bangladesh’s central bank and transferred to the Philippine financial system, according to reelectionist Sen. Panfilo Lacson.
In a text message to the Philippine Daily Inquirer, Lacson said Wong, a long-time friend of his, reached out to him last week.
“As per my advice, [Wong] promised to tell all on Tuesday when the Senate hearing resumes,” Lacson said.
Wong returned to the country last week after receiving medical treatment in Singapore.
He is a key personality in the Senate inquiry into the money laundering of the $81 million, which was deposited in four bank accounts at the Rizal Commercial Banking Corp. (RCBC) branch on Jupiter Street in Makati City.
Wong was identified by bank manager Maia Deguito as the one who told her to open the bank accounts, four of which turned out to be for fictitious persons with fake addresses.
Wong is facing a criminal complaint after the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) accused him of facilitating the traffic of dirty money.
Hackers stole the $81 million from the account of the Bangladesh’s central bank in the Federal Reserve Bank of New York on Feb. 5 and wired it to the four accounts in RCBC Jupiter branch. The money was then consolidated into an account in the name of businessman William So Go and later converted into pesos by the remittance firm Philrem, which transferred part of the funds to Chinese casino player Xu Weikang and Bloombery Hotels Inc., operator of Solaire Casino in Parañaque City.
The AMLC said Philrem also transferred P1 billion, or $21.6 million, to Wong through his Philippine National Bank account of his business, Eastern Hawaii Leisure Co. Ltd.
At the continuation of the blue ribbon committee’s investigation on Tuesday, Wong “will shed light and correct some false testimonies made by some resource persons who testified earlier,” Lacson said.
“Nevertheless, I told him to confer with his lawyer,” Lacson added.
One of Wong’s lawyers said his client would tell the truth at the hearing to belie accusations he was behind the money laundering scheme.
“Mr. Kim Wong is only armed with the truth. He will prove that he is not hiding and that he will fully cooperate in this investigation,” lawyer Inocencio Ferrer Jr. said.
When asked what he thought of Wong’s claim to innocence in the scandal, Lacson said he would rather wait for Wong’s testimony on Tuesday.
Lacson said he was first introduced to Wong when he was chief of the Philippine National Police, as he vouched for Wong as somebody not involved in any illegal activities.
“Just to clarify, as far as I’m concerned, he has not engaged in illegal activities, much less illegal drugs or money laundering. Otherwise, I would have arrested him myself,” Lacson said of Wong.
He reminded that Wong had been used as a “fall guy” so as to link him to illegal drugs way back in 2001.
The senator was referring to the Senate inquiry into illegal drugs where he was accused of being involved in the illegal drug trade by then military intelligence chief, Col. Victor Corpus.
Lacson said at that time, Wong was not the Kim Wong being referred to by Corpus and other accusers as the Chinese national in the Philippine government’s Order of Battle.
Lacson said he pushed for a bill he authored in the Senate in 2011 that sought to include casino winnings and transactions and art works in the list of covered transactions of the amended Anti-Money Laundering Act.
“Due to opposition from some senators, my version of the bill was watered down with the exclusion of those two transactions that I mentioned,” he said.
Lacson, who has been ranking high in pre-election senatorial surveys, vowed he would refile his measure in his expected return to the Senate in July. SFM
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