MANILA—Sen. Richard Gordon on Saturday said he guarantees there's an operation going on between government officials and dozens of Chinese citizens, who allegedly laundered at least $188 million in cash in the Philippines starting from December 2019.
Gordon, chair of the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee, said that despite the amount of dirty money being brought into the country no concerned government agencies reported such activities, despite the cash being declared upon arrival in the Philippines.
"Walang nagre-report apparently," he told ABS-CBN News broadcaster Henry Omaga-Diaz in an interview on Radyo dzMM. "I don't think it is being reported. Otherwise, anong ginagawa ng gobyerno (What is the government doing)?"
Gordon alleged that Chinese nationals had "money connections" in government, because they could supposedly declare large amounts of money and bring it into the country without being flagged.
The senator explained that if someone arrives in the Philippines with at least $10,000 cash, they will be questioned under the suspicion of laundering it.
"Kailangan sabihin mo. Kun'di, kukunin sayo 'yan ng gobyerno," he said. "So dinedeclare nila (Chinese nationals). Matapang sila. It means meron silang mga connection."
He earlier revealed to newspaper Philippine Daily Inquirer that these Chinese nationals brought millions of dollars into the country, while citing records from the Bureau of Customs (BOC). He said that these foreigners, some of whom carried $5 million in cash personally, declared the money when they flew into the country between December and February.
Based on the records of the BOC, the Chinese who brought huge amounts of money claimed that they would use it for travel and casino, while others said they would use it as investment.
However, Gordon said that "definitely this is money laundering."
“This is very alarming. So many foreigners are coming into the country with this huge amount of money . . . It’s tragic that we have an anti-money laundering law, but our country is used by other people,” Gordon said.
The senator had called for a Senate probe with the Anti-Money Laundering Council (ALMC) into the alleged money-laundering scheme.
"The first step there is to call the AMLC, whether they're aware that tremendous amounts of money are coming into the country. That money can be used for election purposes, or bribing officials, or even generating an army that can topple the government," Gordon earlier told ANC.
“Mga (around) next week, I’m going to call a hearing just to start it . . . I just said I’m going to look into it, but I’m not making any judgment.”