Villanueva backs BSP-AMLC probe on POGOs: We don’t want another Bangladesh Bank heist

Senator Joel Villanueva praised Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas and the
Anti-Money Laundering Council for initiating a probe on the impact of
Philippine Offshore Gaming Operations (POGOs) on the economy.

Villanueva said this would complement his initiative to conduct a
probe on the influx of illegal Chinese workers to work for POGOs.

“POGOs are fertile ground for illicit transactions such as money
laundering, among other crimes. If our government does not put in
safeguards on this sector as soon as possible, we risk being branded
as another money laundering hotspot. We do not want another
Bangladeshi bank heist happening on our shores,” said Villanueva in a
statement.

Villanueva was referring to the $81 million stolen from Bangladesh
Bank’s account with the New York Federal Reserve in 2016 and laundered
into Philippine banks and casino junket operators. Only $15 million of
the stolen funds have been recovered.

Villanueva said POGOs do not create jobs for Filipinos and its
Chinese workers, who have no working visas and do not pay taxes, have
led to social and economic problems with locals.

“Until last month, our revenue collection from the sector is minimal
at best considering that POGO firms only agreed to pay income taxes
last month, nearly three years since its operations went full blast in
2016,” said Vilanueva.

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