Latest Stories

Lawmakers blame DoJ, BI for 3 Pagcor con men’s escape


How did they get away? Already, the high-roller cheats were under arrest and charged with estafa, a nonbailable offense. So, what happened?

Lawmakers on Wednesday blamed Department of Justice (DoJ) prosecutors and Bureau of Immigration (BI) officials for allowing three members of a foreign gambling syndicate to leave the country.

The Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (Pagcor) lost some P160 million in April to members of the syndicate that used a hidden camera to cheat at baccarat in three casinos of the state-gaming firm in Metro Manila. The syndicate was led by Loo Choon Beng alias Ben Lui.

Three suspected card cheats were arrested and charged with syndicated estafa, a nonbailable offense, in the Parañaque Regional Trial Court, but the case was later downgraded to simple estafa by the DOJ, allowing the suspects to post bail and later leave the country.

At Wednesday’s joint hearing of the House committees on justice and games and amusement, Ilocos Norte Rep. Rodolfo Fariñas asked why Prosecutor General Claro Arellano, Justice Undersecretary Zabedin Azis and Parañaque Prosecutors Apolinar Quetulio Jr. and Amerhassan C. Paudac downgraded the charges.

The syndicate members charged on May 9 were Kit Mang Chiang (who was armed with a hidden camera under his sleeve while serving as the card cutter); Qianghua Zheng (receiver of the data on the sequence of cards as these were being cut and dealt) and Chian Keok Hwa (the lookout).

The recording was dictated to another player through a phone call.

Lui, a longtime Pagcor high roller, was charged but escaped the clutches of Pagcor security.

Fariñas said Parañaque prosecutors made another blunder when they did not order the arrest of the three syndicate members when they failed to appear at their arraignment.

Late hold order

Fariñas said the DoJ made matters worse by issuing a hold-departure order against the three and Lui two days too late.

“I’m just wondering why you let them go lightly with all the evidence against them? They robbed our state casinos and you allowed them to walk away. You should ask yourselves whether you are for the prosecution or for their defense,” said an exasperated Fariñas.

Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez said Immigration Commissioner Ricardo A. David Jr. erred because he did not put the entire gang on the watch list immediately after Pagcor informed his office.

In a video presentation showing the footage of the scam at the Airport Casino Filipino (at 8:58 p.m. on May 8), the four converged at Table 69. Chiang was using “hard curved plastic attached to his finger which he glided on top of the cards before making a cut.”

He then proceeded to the restroom while Hwa started talking on the phone. Zheng put on his earphones and Lui looked on.

Sting operation

It was a sting operation as the four and three other unnamed Chinese nationals were already banned a few days earlier after they were caught at the Casino Filipino Hyatt branch carrying out the scam.

Pagcor security arrested the three gang members, except for Lui, at the exit.

“The group tucked a miniature camera under the gambler’s sleeve to record the value and suit of each card. They bet accordingly with the information they got from the prerecorded sequence of cards,” according to the Pagcor presentation.

Pagcor claimed that Chiang had confessed to the scam which, based on the memory card in the miniature camera, had been carried out in Pagcor casinos since April.

Like Las Vegas gang

The state-gaming firm noted that the syndicate’s modus operandi was similar to the scheme of the “cutters” gang, which fleeced Las Vegas casinos of millions of dollars early this year.

After getting wind of the high-tech scam being perpetrated in Macau, Cambodia, Australia and the United States, Pagcor started reviewing its CCTVs amid a string of losses involving Lui.

Pagcor claimed that it was the first casino operator in the world to arrest and charge the syndicate.

The gaming firm said it lost to the syndicate P121.078 million in the Airport Casino; P17 million in the Heritage Hotel Casino and P19 million in the Hyatt Hotel Casino.

Follow Us

Follow us on Facebook Follow on Twitter Follow on Twitter

Recent Stories:

Complete stories on our Digital Edition newsstand for tablets, netbooks and mobile phones; 14-issue free trial. About to step out? Get breaking alerts on your mobile.phone. Text ON INQ BREAKING to 4467, for Globe, Smart and Sun subscribers in the Philippines.

Tags: Amerhassan C. Paudac , Bureau of Immigration (BI) officials , Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez , Estafa , High-roller cheats , House committees on justice and games and amusement , Ilocos Norte Rep. Rodolfo Fariñas , Immigration Commissioner Ricardo A. David Jr. , Justice Undersecretary Zabedin Azis , Kit Mang Chiang; Qianghua Zheng; Chian Keok Hwa , nonbailable offense , Parañaque Prosecutors Apolinar Quetulio Jr. , Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (Pagcor) , Prosecutor General Claro Arellano

  • Anonymous

    Let all those Government Officials and Workers who can’t perform and capable to do their job within their positions be Fired out or else our government will just loose a lot money because of their incapability. Thats why we have a poor governing system because of these people!!!!….Its time to roll some heads….

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_GROD22VFSTVQFSW5HHPGBLSCPM Patryck

    hahaha… di kasi mga Arroyo or allies ng mga Arroyo ang nahuli.. kaya pinapuslit lang…. yung pinag-iinitan eh yung 1 billion na coffee… (market wise reasonable pala for 10 years consumption)… hahahaha

  • Anonymous

    so ano ang sagot ng mga taga DOJ at BI? mukhang kulang ang report o follow up ah.

Copyright © 2014, .
To subscribe to the Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper in the Philippines, call +63 2 896-6000 for Metro Manila and Metro Cebu or email your subscription request here.
Factual errors? Contact the Philippine Daily Inquirer's day desk. Believe this article violates journalistic ethics? Contact the Inquirer's Reader's Advocate. Or write The Readers' Advocate:
c/o Philippine Daily Inquirer Chino Roces Avenue corner Yague and Mascardo Streets, Makati City, Metro Manila, Philippines Or fax nos. +63 2 8974793 to 94
  1. Henares on Pacquiao bashing: I did not start this
  2. ‘Mom, I love you,’ says text from student on sinking ferry
  3. ‘No real progress in PH if dynasties not dismantled’
  4. Massive infra spending set
  5. More legal woes for Cedric Lee
  6. Kim Henares needs a reprimand, says Cayetano
  7. Passengers denied chance to escape sinking South Korea ferry
  8. South Korea president shouted down by distraught parents
  9. Two Popes who would be saints
  10. Lacson’s wife loses diamond earring to thieves but recovers jewelry quickly with police arrest
  1. Kim Henares needs a reprimand, says Cayetano
  2. Suspect in Vhong Navarro mauling tries to leave PH
  3. Fr. Suarez says last Mass on Easter before returning donated land to San Miguel
  4. MH370 co-pilot made mid-flight phone call – report
  5. More legal woes for Cedric Lee
  6. I’ll follow my conscience on Estrada, says JV Ejercito
  7. ‘Wife of Jesus’ theory papyrus not fake – Harvard study
  8. Gay college instructor arrested for oral sex with student
  9. ‘No real progress in PH if dynasties not dismantled’
  10. Palace: We can’t blame increase in population on Vitangcol
  1. KL confirms Malaysian Airlines Flight MH370 ended in Indian Ocean
  2. MRT passengers pass the hat for 6-year-old Ashley
  3. Pork payoffs to newscasters Erwin Tulfo, Del Prado, others bared
  4. Rookie, lady cops lauded for quick response to MOA heist
  5. Model Helena Belmonte wished ‘to slash her wrist and hope to die’
  6. Malaysia averts another air tragedy; pilot lands troubled plane safely
  7. Revilla says he was joking; Lacson stands by his story
  8. Revilla ‘consulted’ Lacson on how he evaded arrest
  9. Police rule out foul play in Helena Belmonte’s death as boyfriend is ‘traumatized’
  10. Cudia, dismissed for lying, got 99% in conduct


  • Tens of thousands travel by sea this Holy Week
  • Police: Dad smothered toddler to play video game
  • 7 killed in shooting in China-Vietnam border
  • Chinese trade group to mediate shoe factory strike
  • Malaysia, Australia in deal on black box custody–report
  • Sports

  • Pacquiao shorts in Bradley fight sold for P1.7M in LA auction
  • Ryu pitches Dodgers past Giants
  • Alonso sets the pace in Chinese GP practice
  • Heat seek Three-peat but Spurs, Pacers top seeds
  • Can Spurs get back at Heat? Can they survive West?
  • Lifestyle

  • Levine designs womenswear with help from fiancee
  • Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Nobel laureate, dies at 87
  • Ford Mustang turns 50 atop Empire State Building
  • Pro visual artists, lensmen to judge Pagcor’s photo contest
  • ‘Labahita a la bacalao’
  • Entertainment

  • EXO postpones release of mini album ‘Overdose’
  • ‘X-men’ filmmaker slams ‘fabricated’ sex attack claims
  • Singer Chris Brown’s bodyguard on trial in DC
  • Whoopi Goldberg debuts as marijuana columnist
  • ‘X-men’ director accused of sex assault on teen boy
  • Business

  • Italy sells luxury state cars on eBay
  • Asian shares mostly up in quiet trade
  • Dollar up in Asia on US jobs data, Ukraine deal
  • Barbie doll has a problem
  • Oil prices mixed ahead of long Easter weekend
  • Technology

  • Netizens pay respects to Gabriel Garcia Marquez
  • Nokia recalls 30,000 chargers for Lumia 2520 tablet
  • Facebook rolls out ‘nearby friends’ feature
  • Netizens seethe over Aquino’s ‘sacrifice’ message
  • Filipinos #PrayForSouthKorea
  • Opinion

  • Editorial cartoon, April 17, 2014
  • A humbler Church
  • Deepest darkness
  • ‘Agnihotra’ for Earth’s health
  • It’s the Holy Week, time to think of others
  • Global Nation

  • DoH denies Filipino nurse no longer positive for MERS virus
  • WHO warns vs spread of MERS-Cov, urges vigilance in taking precautions
  • Last call for nominations to ’14 Presidential Awards
  • San Francisco business coalition slams proposed tax on sugary drinks
  • A ‘time-travel’ production of ‘Les Miserable’ at Stanford
  • Marketplace