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CA affirms lifting freeze order on casino operator’s assets

Evelyn Macairan - The Philippine Star
CA affirms lifting freeze order on casino operatorâs assets
The bank accounts of Wong, also known as Kim Wong, were earlier ordered frozen by a Manila City Regional Trial Court (RTC) in connection with the $81-million cyber heist.
Philstar.com / EC Toledo

MANILA, Philippines — The Court of Appeals (CA) has maintained its earlier decision favoring the order of a lower court to lift the asset preservation orders (APOs) issued against the bank accounts of alleged casino junket operator Kam Sin Wong, in connection with the $81 million allegedly stolen from the Bangladesh Bank in 2016.

The bank accounts of Wong, also known as Kim Wong, were earlier ordered frozen by a Manila City Regional Trial Court (RTC) in connection with the $81-million cyber heist.

“Once again, the court made a careful and judicious study of the merits of the case, in light of the respective arguments and petitioner in its motion for reconsideration of the court’s decision dated April 29, 2022, and private respondents in their comment/opposition to the motion,” the CA said in a two-page resolution dated Aug. 2 and penned by CA Associate Justice Fernanda Lampas-Peralta.

“The court is not swayed to reconsider. The matters raised in the motion have been scrutinized, weighed and passed upon by the court in the said decision. The motion fails to present any new and substantial matter, or any cogent and compelling reason, which would justify reconsideration of the court’s ruling,” the appellate court added, affirming its denial of the motion for reconsideration for “lack of merit.”

Concurring with Peralta were CA Associate Justices Bonifacio Pascua and Jennifer Joy Ong.

In its April 29 decision, the CA found no grave abuse of discretion on the part of the Manila RTC in granting respondents Kam, his company Eastern Hawaii Leisure Co. Ltd., Qiaoqiao Wendy Wang and Dong Na Xu’s plea to free their bank accounts in the Philippine National Bank.

The Manila RTC also pointed out that while private respondents Kam and Eastern Hawaii Leisure Co. Ltd.’s act of surrendering to the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) the amounts of $4,630,000 and P488.28 million were an acknowledgment that the same were proceeds from the hacking of the bank account of Bangladesh Bank, it could not be denied that such an act was a demonstration of their good faith.

The issuance of APOs stemmed from the AMLC’s filing of a petition for civil forfeiture before the Manila RTC to recover the stolen funds.

COURT OF APPEALS

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