- A total of 19 people gambled the amount through casino chips
- Gamblers withdrew 278.6 million pesos of winnings: report
A total of 19 people gambled 1.37 billion pesos ($30 million) of the $81 million stolen from Bangladesh foreign reserves at a Philippine casino in February before a fraction of the funds was frozen by the gaming operator.
The high-roller players gambled under two Chinese junket operators at Solaire Resort & Casino and withdrew 278.6 million pesos in total winnings, according to reports Bloomberry Resorts Corp. submitted to the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee and casino regulator seen by Bloomberg News. Bloomberry owns and operates Solaire in Manila.
Solaire stopped the gamblers on March 10 after five weeks, and froze 107.4 million pesos remaining from six people, according to the document. Another 1.35 million pesos in cash was also confiscated, and the casino operator said it will hold the funds until it receives a court order, according to the report.
“We are disappointed that the casinos are now being made a scapegoat in this unfortunate affair,” Silverio Benny J. Tan, compliance officer at Bloomberry, said in the report to the Senate. “We are not the culprits here.”
Joy Wassmer, a Bloomberry spokeswoman, declined to comment on the reports.
The $81 million transferred through a Philippine lender made this one of the largest bank heists in modern history, with the channeling to at least two Philippine casinos where the money trail has gone cold. A further $20 million that the hackers managed to transfer to a Sri Lankan bank was recovered.
Kim Wong, the Philippine gambling junket operator dubbed the “missing link” in the case, said on in a Senate hearing earlier this week he’s willing to return as much as $14.3 million he received from two Chinese nationals linked to the stolen funds. He returned $4.6 million on Thursday.