THE House panel investigating the case of suspected Chinese crime lord Wang Bo has summoned officials from his employer, ELC Technologies Consulting Inc., to the next hearing amid suspicion that the company was being used as a front for a P91 billion illegal gambling and money laundering operation.
Abakada Rep. Jonathan de la Cruz said one of ELC’s incorporators and its president, Zhao Yin, was also declared by China as a fugitive, and was among four individuals—including Wang—who had been put on the Bureau of Immigration’s watch list and blacklist orders.
During Tuesday’s hearing, Pampanga Rep. Oscar Rodriguez, chairman of the committee on good government and public accountability, ordered that officials of the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) be invited to the July 7 hearing after Cavite Rep. Elpidio Barzaga Jr. and Dela Cruz wanted to know how 13 billion yuan or P91 billion had found its way into the Philippines from China undetected.
“I have received information that Wang and Zhao were using the ELC as a front for money laundering and setting up companies here using the laundered money,” Dela Cruz said.
The Standard tried to reach the number of ELC listed on an online business directory, but the person who answered the phone denied it was an office number.
Earlier, the Chinese Embassy submitted a report to Immigration Commissioner Siegred Mison and Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, saying Wang was involved in transnational illegal gambling and laundered P91 billion into the Philippines to expand his illegal “Skybet” operation.
“Wang Bo, as the key player of the Skybet network gambling company, has returned to China many times for applying for bank cards with other Chinese people, such as Chen Dingsong, Yan Rongsheng, etc. All the bank cards were carried into the Philippines for gambling fund flow of his company,” the Chinese Embassy document said.
“His relatives (parents and sisters] also helped him apply for bank cards for the gambling fund flow of his company,” the document from Jiusan Nongken Public Security Bureau dated Feb. 17, 2015 said.
“He commanded the people in China to transfer and launder the gambling funds. The amount of money on this case is Y13 billion. Wang Bo was suspected of opening casino and illegal business operation.”
Like Wang, Zhao has been blacklisted and cannot enter the country.
Citing immigration records, Dela Cruz said that the bureau issued a blacklist order dated Feb. 4, 2015 upon information and request from the Chinese Embassy through Police Attache Fu Yunfei.
Dela Cruz said official records show Zhao and Wang, along with Zhou Shiyi and Chen Xiangdong were all “Chinese fugitives involved in gambling crimes in China and their passports have been cancelled by the Chinese government.”
“In short, Wang, an ELC employee and Zhao, ELC president and owner, were declared as undocumented and undesirable aliens by the Chinese Embassy,” Dela Cruz told the panel.
Dela Cruz said he was wondering why the ELC, which was granted a CEZA (Cagayan Export Zone Authrity] permit, was operating in Makati.
Dela Cruz also demanded that the other ELC incorporators be summoned, naming them as Chinese national Xian Tang and Filipinos Raul Ma. Francisco, Josefina Ruby Gutierrez and Ramon Malinao.
Citing ELC’s incorporation papers with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Dela Cruz said Zhao was listed as president of the ELC with address at 7 Tongi Bridge, Changzhou City, China.
Wang, accompanied by his counsel Dennis Manalo, denied being involved in any illegal activities.
But Wang admitted knowing Zhao, his employer.
“I know Yin Zhao. He is the president of ELC. But I am a mere employee, receiving only P25,000 in salaries a month. If there are holidays, my pay reaches P30,000,” Wang told the panel.
“But I don’t know the other businesses of Zhao. My job is to assist other companies when they have computer problems. ELC is just like a call center. We hold office in Makati,” Wang said.
He said he has been with the ELC as a technical consultant since 2012. But the ELC’s incorporation papers showed the company was listed with the SEC only in 2013.
Wang said he arrived in the country in September 2008 and worked with the company Payview until 2012. Payview, he said, was similar to ELC, a call center.
When asked by lawmakers why Wang, with a small monthly pay, could afford a lawyer like Manalo, it was Manalo who answered and said he is the kind of lawyer who accepts clients not just based on monetary considerations.
Wang said he had no idea why the Chinese Embassy declared him a fugitive and an undesirable alien.
He also denied having paid off immigration officials in exchange for his freedom.
House Independent Minority Bloc leader and Leyte Rep. Ferdinand Martin Romualdez asked Wang how much he wanted to stay in the Philippines because he did not want to get deported.
“Very much,” Wang told the panel.
Wang was intercepted at the airport on Feb. 9 and has been under the bureau’s custody up to now.
At Tuesday’s hearing, Manalo appealed to the panel to help convince Mison to allow Wang to rejoin his fellow detainees at the Camp Bagong Diwa in Bicutan, Taguig.
Manalo said Wang was placed in isolation and was placed in a 8-by 5-meter cell without sunlight. Wang was not even allowed to go out to do exercises or expose himself to morning sun.
Manalo said he had not seen his client since June 9, when the panel started its probe.
Rodriguez told Mison to grant Wang’s request and treat the suspected Chinese crime lord humanely.
“We will look into it. I am not aware of that (Wang in isolation]. There was no order from me to place him in isolation,” Mison said.
Mison said he had to abide by De Lima’s directive that all visitors, including counsel, of Wang be cleared first with her.
On Wednesday, the Bureau of Immigration denied that officials doctored the records of Wang to allow him to placed under the bureau’s control.
In a statement, BI spokesperson Elaine Tan said Wang was immediately placed under Immigration control shortly after the bureau learned that he was using a revoked passport.
“Under Immigration rules, a foreigner who uses a revoked or lapsed or fake passport is subject to summary deportation proceedings,” she said.
Tan said as early as Jan. 30, the bureau received information about Wang’s involvement in illegal gambling operations in China.
“Upon learning of Wang’s detention at the bureau, the Chinese embassy immediately sent a letter from its Police attaché authenticating Wang as a fugitive from justice. The Chinese police attaché also verified revocation of Wang’s passport,” she said.
Tan said that the transcript made during deliberations of the Board of Commissioners last May 21 was misinterpreted.
“The statements were taken out of context. Let us not pass judgment based on just one portion of the proceedings. Wang Bo’s deportation was discussed in at least three meetings of the Board of Commissioners and also went through hearings before other BI officers. Let us read and understand the whole story first,” Tan said.
Records show that Wang was actually admitted into the country when his exclusion was recalled on Feb. 11, for the purpose of deporting him to China.
Tan explained that there may have been confusion on the issue of admission (entry) when the proponent for the reversal of the deportation order represented that there was no such admission.
“If we read the other documents of the case, we will find out that Wang was admitted (and not excluded) because we want to bring him to justice in China—it is a standard law enforcement protocol to prevent a fugitive from avoiding the arms of the law. We cannot deport if he were excluded,” Tan said.
A Jan. 30 letter from the Chinese Embassy, which formed the basis for his inclusion in the BI’s blacklist, states that Wang’s passport had been cancelled and that he is a fugitive in China.
A June 8 resolution issued by Justice Secretary Leila de Lima said Wang should have been deported immediately were it not for “the inaccurate and inappropriate representations by Associate Commissioner [Gilberto] Repizo.”
Repizo, explaining his stand, said the documents from the Chinese Embassy must be authenticated before they are accepted. – With Vito Barcelo