Bangladesh envoy: We want all of $81M stolen back
MANILA — At least two-fifths of the stolen money from Bangladesh’s central bank has been recovered after junket operator Kim Wong turned over $4.63 million to the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) Thursday, but Dhaka’s envoy to Manila wants to recover more.
AMLC Executive Director Julia Bacay-Abad added that Kim Wong was not off the hook. “Walang ganoong arrangement (There’s no such arrangement),” Bacay-Abad said when asked if they would withdraw the case filed against the businessman.
“We hope this would be a step in the right direction,” Bangladesh’s ambassador to the Philippines John Gomes said.
Gomes nonetheless said they would still want to recover some more—$34 million reported in newspapers, $17 million claimed by Kim Wong that went to Philrem’s Salud Bautista, and another over $9 million (P450 million) that the junket operator had allegedly already used up.
“We are quite optimistic, since we have recovered 40 percent of the total amount. We’re quite pleased with the way the Senate has been able to get a portion of the money,” Gomes said.
The envoy said officials from Bangladesh Bank, their central bank, will arrive here on Sunday and attend the Senate hearing on April 5.
The Bangladeshi central bank officials will coordinate with AMLC on how they would bring the money back home.
Also, Gomes said officials of the Bangladesh’s Criminal Investigation Department will arrive here next week to start their own investigation. “They will investigate through documents how the money came in here and who were involved,” he said.
Bacay-Abad said AMLC has effectively turned over the stolen money to the Bangladesh government through the acknowledgment receipt which she and Gomes signed.
Bacay-Abad said it took them about two-and-a-half hours to count the money. “The BSP’s cash department started 3:30 p.m.and finished almost 6 o’clock,” she said.
They used two counting machines, with five cashiers assisting, she added.
Bacay-Abad said they were not told how Kim Wong was able to produce that huge amount of cash—in 46 bundles of $100,000 all comprised of $100 bill—except that they were sourced from junket operations. “I think it came from Solaire… We provided security [for the transportation of money to the AMLC office].”
She disclosed that Kim Wong’s lawyer Inocencio Ferrer arrived at the AMLC office at about 10 a.m. “and informed us that the money is ready in two hours.” SFM
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