Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation Head Cristino Naguiat Jr. recently spoke with reporters, defending the gambling industry, stating that casinos are not the easiest venue for criminals to launder funds. Naguiat spoke freely on the subject, stating that money can easily be traced and is not part of an intricate web of money laundering activities.

Naguiat was discussing the issue of money being returned that was part of a hacker job, where $81 million was stolen from the government of Bangladesh, with reports surfacing on the incident in March. Naguiat stated that the fact Kim Wong, a junket operator, returned over $4 million that was a portion of the monies stolen, shows that the money is traceable and cannot be included in money laundering scandals.

The PAGCOR Head pointed out that it was the casino who was the only entity that could yield the money and pinpoint people involved because the casino has the ability to monitor every aspect. Others involved, the financial institutions, are under the bank secrecy land and the Anti-Money Laundering Act. Naguiat stated further that the management of Pagcor encouraged Wong to return the funds voluntarily to the Anti-Money Laundering Council.

The casinos and Pagcor are constantly in discussions as efforts to protect the casino gaming industry, according to Naguiat. The junket operators as well as casino owners are open with the books as they have to protect their business just as Pagcor needs to protect the gaming industry. Pagcor felt that the junket operator would return the funds found to be connected to the hacking job after they were able to pinpoint the funds were with the businessman.

Late last week, Wong returned the funds via his lawyer. The staff of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas took over two hours to count the money, using machines in the process.