MANILA - Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II has ordered the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to probe him and National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr. amid gambling operator Charlie “Atong” Ang’s allegations, including claims that he is a "ninong" or protector of a casino operator linked to the $81-million Bangladesh bank heist.
Aguirre on Tuesday issued Department Order No. 267 directing the NBI, an attached agency of the Department of Justice (DOJ), “to conduct investigation and case build-up” on Ang’s several allegations, including the justice chief's purported links to Small Town Lottery operations.
The official issued the one-page order to NBI Director Dante Gierran even as Ang had claimed that he was using the NBI to have him assassinated.
Still, the official slammed the allegations, calling it a “demolition job” against him “in conspiracy with the destabilizers of the Duterte administration."
Ang has claimed that Aguirre’s involvement in STL operations was through his brother, Ogie Aguirre.
He accused Aguirre, Esperon, and members of the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) Class of 1982 of wanting to liquidate him to stamp out virtual jai alai operations operated by Meridien Vista Gaming Corporation, where Ang is a consultant.
He also accused Aguirre of protecting gambling junket operator Kim Wong, claiming the justice chief was behind the dismissal of money laundering charges against the businessman at the DOJ in connection with the February 2016 Bangladesh Bank heist.
Wong was cleared in the DOJ resolution on the complaint filed by the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC), which hinged its case on the testimony of former Rizal Commercial Banking Corporation (RCBC) Jupiter branch manager Maia Deguito before the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee.
It was Deguito, along with several others, who the DOJ resolved to indict for the heist.
Deguito had told the Senate that Wong made the referral to open several accounts, where the stolen Bangladesh funds were transferred. The accounts turned out to have been opened under the name of fictitious depositors.
The AMLC also alleged that on Feb. 10 and 11, 2016 PhilRem transferred a total of P1-billion of the laundered Bangladesh funds to Eastern Hawaii Leisure Company Limited's Philippine National Bank account number. Wong is president and general manager of the firm.
Ang alleged Aguirre is the godfather to Wong’s child.
In response to Ang’s latest claim, Aguirre called the businessman a “liar."
"Kim Wong is never my kumpare. I am never a ninong of any of his children. I have no hand in the resolution of Bangladesh case. Atong Ang is a liar,” Aguirre said, in a text message.
Aguirre said he was ready to face any legislative inquiry into all of Ang’s allegations.