Duterte not convinced with money laundering allegations vs Pogos
MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday night shrugged off the money laundering allegations being linked with the controversy-hit Philippine offshore gaming operators (Pogos), stressing that he refused to shut them down because the government needed the money they were generating.
Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) Executive Director Mel Georgie Racela told a recent Senate hearing that at least P14 billion worth of transactions by Pogos were related to suspicious activities.
The President, however, said that the government had obtained a list of bank deposits and found no proof of money laundering activities in connection with Pogos.
“We are not justifying it. We are just saying it is allowed because we need the funds, but sa speculation ng mga senador na ginagamit na laundering, mayroon kami. We have a listing of itong mga deposito nila. There is a report of money laundering, pero doon sa bangko mismo wala,” Duterte said in a press briefing in Malacañang.
“If they want the payment to emanate from the Philippines, there’s nothing that we can do. But kung sabihin mo ‘yung — the money laundering na hindi nakita ng — ‘yung regulators diyan. Binigyan kami ng kopya, hindi totoo,” he added.
Duterte’s spokesman Salvador Panelo earlier announced that the President had rejected a proposed suspension of Pogos despite the alleged irregularities linked to its operations such as money laundering, corruption, illegal recruitment, and human trafficking.
According to Panelo, a report from Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp., the country’s gaming regulator, convinced the President to keep Pogos running, citing the revenues the government receive from it.
Duterte also explained that he could not prohibit Chinese from entering the country.
A vast majority of Pogo workers are Chinese nationals.
“We cannot bar Chinese nationals from entering the country because they allow us to enter China also and even work in Hong Kong,” he said.
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