Walls of silence
FROM the air, rich Chinese flying into the Philippines to gamble or Filipinos flying out to work overseas for a living can see the distinctive Solaire Resort and Casino beside the murky waters of Manila Bay. It was into these auspicious premises in early February that a money-remittance company, Philrem, moved about $60m stolen from Bangladesh’s central bank, delivering over half of it in cash. The money was part of $101m taken, of which $81m ended up in the Philippines. In all, only $20m has so far been recovered.
Once behind the walls of the Solaire Resort, the swag disappeared, converted into untraceable gambling chips (other money went to an online gaming firm). “Our money trail ended up at the casinos,” the executive director of the Philippines’ Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC), Julia Bacay-Abad, has told a Senate committee holding public hearings into the case.
The AMLC picked up the trail behind the frosted-glass frontage of a branch of Rizal Commercial Banking Corporation (RCBC) in the country’s financial centre, Makati, in the capital of Manila. There, the Senate...