Vital documents vs Pogo execs seized in Clark

Vital documents vs Pogo execs seized in Clark

PAOCC says bankbooks, passports, casino cards found in vaults at raided villas to help prosecute officials of firm behind illegal gaming hub in Tarlac
/ 04:45 AM July 10, 2024

SHUTDOWN A Philippine offshore gaming operator (Pogo) hub operating behind the town hall of Bamban in Tarlac province has been shut down following a government raid in March due to human trafficking, online scams and other illegal activities. —RICHARD A. REYES

SHUTDOWN A Philippine offshore gaming operator (Pogo) hub operating behind the town hall of Bamban in Tarlac province has been shut down following a government raid in March due to human trafficking, online scams and other illegal activities. —Richard A. Reyes

MABALACAT CITY, PAMPANGA, Philippines — Authorities found on Monday night some important documents that they said would strengthen the government’s cases against suspected “big bosses” of an illegal Philippine offshore gaming operator (Pogo) hub in Bamban town, Tarlac.

From Monday night until the wee hours of Tuesday, personnel of the Presidential Anti-Organized Crime Commission (PAOCC) and the police’s Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) forcibly opened the 19 vaults inside the recently raided villas at Fontana Hot Spring Leisure Parks in Clark Freeport, allegedly owned by the bosses of Zun Yuan Technology Inc.

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READ: Fontana to CDC: We don’t own raided villas

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PAOCC Undersecretary Gilbert Cruz told reporters on Tuesday that no money was recovered from the vaults but noted that some documents found inside them revealed important information and would help in successfully prosecuting the suspected Pogo bosses.

READ: Clark resort raid fails to find Chinese ‘traffickers’

Armed with a court-issued order, officials and operatives of PAOCC, CIDG, the Anti-Money Laundering Council and the Department of Justice entered three Fontana villas (numbers 713, 716, and 742) to open the vaults there.

These were among the five villas raided by authorities on June 27 to serve the search warrant issued by the Malolos City Regional Trial Court Branch 81 for human trafficking and to look for suspected Bamban Pogo bosses Lyu Dong and Da Wei.Cruz said that bank documents, including one with a P5 million deposit, passports and VIP casino cards, were found inside the vaults.

He said a bankbook was found to be used not only in local transactions but also in international transactions.

Money laundering

According to Cruz, these documents could be used in filing money laundering charges against the Pogo hub bosses.

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“In the Senate hearing, Sen. [Sherwin] Gatchalian raised the question of how the Pogo buildings were constructed despite the pandemic. Now, we found travel passes issued by a former mayor of Bamban to individuals who are suspected of running a Pogo hub. This needs to be investigated,” he said in Filipino.

Although Cruz did not name the former mayor, PAOCC spokesperson Winston Casio said it was former Bamban Mayor Jose Antonio Feliciano who issued the travel passes. Feliciano had publicly endorsed incumbent Mayor Alice Guo’s candidacy in 2022.

Cruz said the Taiwanese passports of suspected Bamban Pogo big boss Huang Zhiyang, as well as photocopies of the latter’s passports from four other countries, were found inside a vault.

“All the while, we thought that Huang Zhiyang had only four passports. Now we found out that he’s actually using other passports, including Taiwanese passports. We need to check with the Taiwanese [authorities] to verify the authenticity of the passports,” he said.

Cruz said documents related to Guo’s Baofu Land Development Corp. partners, Zhang Ruijin and Lin Baoying, who were arrested in Singapore over a 3-billion Singapore dollar money laundering case, were also found in the vaults.

Cruz said they would also investigate Huang Zhiyang’s VIP casino card found in the vaults.

GATHERING EVIDENCE A member of a government team uses a grinder to open a vault in one of three villas that Pogo officials are reportedly using in Clark Freeport. —CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

GATHERING EVIDENCE A member of a government team uses a grinder to open a vault in one of three villas that Pogo officials are reportedly using in Clark Freeport. —contributed photo

“Does this mean that he (Huang Zhiyang) is a frequent player in the casinos? Or is he using those casinos for money laundering?” he said.

Cruz said new names of people believed to be partners of the Bamban illegal Pogo hub incorporators were also discovered in the documents.

It was learned that Clark Development Corp. (CDC) president and chief executive officer Agnes Devanadera has ordered the closure of the five raided villas for noncompliance with rules and regulations governing state-owned properties.

The CDC requires all locators and developers, including those who own villas, to submit lists of their actual occupants, said Devanadera.

She said the owners of the villas failed to comply with this requirement.

On June 28, the Fontana Development Corp., which manages the 200-hectare Fontana Hot Spring Leisure Parks, issued a statement saying that it no longer owns the villas numbered 713, 716, 742 and 743, as these were already sold way back in 2014.

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Two of the five villas, numbered 633 and 767, which Fontana did not mention as among the units it sold, yielded negative results for human trafficking during the June 27 raid.

TAGS: CIDG, illegal POGO, PAOCC

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