RCBC denies dealing with casinos
Iris Gonzales (The Philippine Star) - March 6, 2016 - 9:00am

MANILA, Philippines – Rizal Commercial Banking Corp. (RCBC) said it does not have any casino client after being implicated in the ongoing investigation into alleged money laundering of some $100 million in funds from abroad that reportedly found its way through the country’s casinos.

RCBC vice chairman Cesar Virata said the bank does not deal with casinos and has limited transactions with tobacco and liquor companies as part of its internal rules on corporate good governance.

Virata added that the account in question is an individual account that was opened more than a year ago.

Sources said RCBC has suspended the manager of its Makati branch while investigation is ongoing.

“We are not allowed to deal with casinos,” Virata said, pointing out in an interview that this is mainly due to the investment of International Finance Corp. (IFC), private sector arm of the World Bank, in RCBC.

Thus, as part of its internal rule, RCBC does not have casino corporate clients and has limited exposure to tobacco and liquor companies.

Last year, IFC raised its equity interest in RCBC to about 12 percent from 6.4 percent. It infused $100 million in fresh capital and separately bought P4.8 billion worth of the bank’s bad assets.

For its part, the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (Pagcor) said the investigation should focus on banks because the funds entered through the banks.

Pagcor said it is up to the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) to deal with the issue, saying that the casino industry relies on the AMLC safeguards within the Philippine banking system.

Pagcor chairman Cristino Naguiat said it is conducting its own investigation but believes that casinos in the Philippines are not involved in money laundering and even in human trafficking activities as reported in the media.

“There are safeguards in place,” he said. Nonetheless, he said Pagcor would cooperate with any investigation on the matter.

Like in banks, he said, casino operators in the Philippines implement know-your-customers (KYC) rules such as requiring passports and proper identification from players.

He also said Pagcor is not against proposals to include casinos in the coverage of the Anti-Money Laundering Act (AMLA).

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