Bloomberry Resorts celebrates dismissal of Bangladesh heist suit


bloomberry-resorts-bangladesh-bank-heist-civil-suitPhilippine casino operator Bloomberry Resorts is off the hook – for the moment, at least – for millions of dollars stolen from the central bank of Bangladesh and funnelled through the local gaming industry.

On Monday, Bloomberry filed papers with the Philippine Stock Exchange detailing a New York court’s dismissal of racketeering claims filed against the company by the Bangladesh Bank. The civil suit stemmed from the 2016 theft of $81m from accounts belonging to the bank held with the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

The heist, which US officials believe was carried out by agents acting on behalf of the North Korean regime, saw $81m taken from the Bangladesh account and transferred to several individuals in the Philippines. These individuals, some of whom had connections to local junket operators, appear to have laundered the money through casinos in Manila, including Bloomberrry’s Solaire Resort & Casino.

Bloomberry’s Monday filing said the US District Court for the Southern District of New York had granted a joint motion by Bloomberry, the Rizal Commercial Banking Corporation (RCBC) and several other local companies and individuals to dismiss the Bangladesh bank’s claims of Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organisations Act (RICO) violations by the defendants.

Bloomberry also said the Court had declined to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over the remaining state law claims, although the Court denied the defendants’ other joint motions to dismiss based on lack of subject matter jurisdiction and suggested another court or forum would be more appropriate.

To date, only one individual has been convicted of wrongdoing stemming from the Bangladesh heist. Last year, RCBC branch manager Maia Santos-Deguito was found guilty of money laundering, although the courts declared that she wasn’t the recipient of any stolen funds. Santos-Deguito is appealing the ruling. Junket operators linked to the incident were cleared by Philippine law enforcement in 2017 due to lack of evidence.

Despite the good news, Bloomberry investors sent the company’s shares down 6.3% by the close of Monday’s trading on the Philippine exchange, possibly because the company announced that the COVID-19 quarantine in effect in the Philippines meant that investors might not receive their promised dividends on time.

Solaire Resort & Casino is currently on lockdown with all the other Entertainment City casino properties as the nation tries to get a handle on its pandemic problems. However, the country’s gambling regulator is now pressing the government to let casino operators resume their VIP gambling activity to ensure a steady stream of tax revenue with which the government can more capably combat the virus.