The supposed bank of third party auditor Global ComRCI contracted by the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (PAGCOR) for Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGOs) has not been authorized at any point by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) to conduct business in the country and thus cannot issue bank guarantees, Senator Win Gatchalian said.
The Senate Committee on Ways and Means, chaired by Gatchalian, attempted to establish at a recent hearing the credibility of Global ComRCI in auditing POGOs’ gaming revenues with the aim to determine if POGO operations are indeed legitimate.
But a letter given by BSP Governor Felipe Medalla to Gatchalian proved otherwise. In his letter, Medalla said that Soleil Chartered Bank is not among the financial institutions registered with nor under the supervision of the BSP. Also, Soleil does not have a pending application for a banking license with the BSP and that it has never received nor processed any banking application from Soleil based on BSP’s records reckoning from 2014, Medalla said in the letter.
Global ComRCI, tasked by PAGCOR to conduct an independent audit of POGOs’ gross gaming revenues, has submitted a bank certificate supposedly issued by Soleil in compliance with PAGCOR’s requirement for a 10-year P6 billion contract. Under PAGCOR’s Terms of Reference (TOR), an entity needs to meet the P1 billion capital requirement to qualify as a third-party auditor.
PAGCOR presented a bank guarantee purportedly issued by Soleil to Global ComRCI in the amount of $25 million.
Medalla also explained in the letter that a foreign bank has to submit an application to the BSP for authority to operate in the Philippines as provided under Republic Act No. 7721 or An Act Liberalizing The Entry and Scope Of Foreign Banks In The Philippines.
In the Philippines, only those authorized by the BSP to operate as a bank may issue a letter of credit. In addition, a foreign bank duly authorized by the appropriate regulator may likewise issue a letter of credit provided the contract is executed outside the Philippines and will not constitute an instance of doing banking business in the Philippines, according to Medalla.
“Based on BSP’s letter, it appears that Global ComRCI falsified the bank certification submitted to PAGCOR because Soleil is not authorized to issue any bank guarantee. It is clear from the terms of the reference issued by PAGCOR that this is a ground for the termination of the contract and this issue should not be taken lightly,” Gatchalian stressed.