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Court of Appeals in the Philippines Turns Down AMLC Appeal on Stolen Funds’ Asset Preservation Order Lawsuit

The Philippines’ Court of Appeals rejected an appeal from the country’s Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) after the court confirmed its own April 29th decision to eliminate the asset preservation order (APO) that had been issued against a China-based casino company, which is currently operating in the Philippines. The junket operator faced the previous order in connection with the cyber money theft, as a result of which a total of $81 million was stolen from the Bangladesh central bank in 2016.

At the time of the heist, some hackers stole the mindblowing amount of $81 million from a bank account of the Bangladesh central bank in the Federal Reserve Bank of New York Bank. The theft was carried out through a series of fraudulent actions carried out via the SWIFT payment system, with the stolen money then being transferred to a number of accounts at the Philippines-based Rizal Commercial Banking Corp (RCBC).

The accounts used for the fraud belonged to different individuals and companies, including Eastern Hawaii Leisure Co. Ltd, a casino junket operator owned by Kam Sin Wong.

According to allegations, the accounts were established especially as part of the fraudulent scheme to be used for the transfer of the misappropriated funds from the Bangladesh central bank. At the time, an asset preservation order was issued by the Manila City Regional Trial Court (RTC) against them as a measure aimed at freezing the funds until there were some results of the investigation of the theft.

AMLC Unable to Prove Junket Operator’s Bank Accounts Were Created Especially for the Theft

A few years later, in October 2019, the Manila City Regional Trial Court lifted the aforementioned asset preservation orders imposed on the accounts of Kam Sin Wong, Dong Na Xu, and Qiaoqiao Wendy Wang, owners of Eastern Hawaii Leisure. The decision was made by the RTC due to a lack of evidence that the three aforementioned individuals were involved in the cyber money theft of the Bangladesh central bank.

At the end of April 2022, the decision that saw the APOs lifted was officially confirmed by the Philippines Court of Appeals.

This decision was appealed by the Philippines’ Anti-Money Laundering Council, but it was eventually confirmed by the Court of Appeals at the beginning of the month. At the time when the CoA reaffirmed the previous ruling, it pointed out that no new evidence was presented by the AMLC to back their case. In addition, the casino junket operator Eastern Hawaii Leisure handed a total of $4.63 million to the Anti-Money Laundering Council, as they were part of the stolen amount, but eventually, the Council did not manage to prove that the company’s bank accounts and its owner were linked to the cyber money theft.

The investigation actually found that the controversial bank accounts were created much earlier than the cyber fraud that resulted in the money theft. Furthermore, the Philippines Court of Appeals explained that the case was still not officially resolved in court, which basically means that there is only what is described as “probable cause” for the issued asset preservation orders.

So far, only a small part of the more than $81 million that entered the financial system of the Philippines has been recovered and returned to the Bangladesh central bank.

 Author: Harrison Young

Harrison Young is an experienced writer, who started his career almost 8 years ago. Prior to joining our team at CasinoGamesPro, he worked as an editor for a small magazine.