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Philippines –Philippines’ casinos used in laundering scandal

By - 15 March 2016

The Philippines Securities and Exchange Commission wants casinos to fall under the jurisdiction of the Anti-Money Laundering Act (AMLA) to give investigative authorities greater powers.

The call comes after at least half the money stolen in an US$81m cyber crime ended up in two of the country’s casinos. Unconfirmed reports suggest that $26m was found to have moved through Solaire Resort and Casino with another $20m being laundered in Easter Hawaii Casino and Resort in the Cagayan province. The deposits were made between February 5 and 9. A casino in Sri Lanka is also thought to have been used.

SEC Chairwoman Teresita Herbosa said: “We need to strengthen the law. It’s a global effort to eradicate money laundering. We have to catch up with people doing that activity.”

The heist involved hackers using a malware device on the Bangladesh Bank’s computer network.

The Federal Reserve Bank of New York received a series of withdrawal requests from the Bangladesh Bank. It approved the first transaction, amounting to $81m with the money then being deposited via the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunications (SWIFT) into foreign bank accounts, and then laundered through the casinos.

The fraud was only detected when a spelling mistake on the word ‘foundation’ held up the payment. Further payments of between $749m to $769m were scheduled to go out the same way.

Cristino Naguiat, Chairman of PAGCOR (Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp) has been asked to attend hearings of the Senate of the Philippines along with a series of executives from individual casino groups.

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