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Philippines Expels More than 300 Chinese Suspects in Online Investment Scam

Jojo Rinoza
Manila
2019-11-14
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Chinese nationals suspected of being part of a criminal syndicate in the Philippines wait to board flights back to their home country, in this handout photo released by Philippine immigration officials, Nov. 14, 2019.
Chinese nationals suspected of being part of a criminal syndicate in the Philippines wait to board flights back to their home country, in this handout photo released by Philippine immigration officials, Nov. 14, 2019.
HO/Philippines Bureau of Immigration

The Philippines on Thursday deported 312 Chinese nationals suspected of being part of a criminal syndicate that targeted people in China through an online investment scam, officials said.

The Chinese were among 512 foreigners arrested Oct. 9 in a massive raid of what officials described as a business processing office in Pasay city, a suburb of metropolitan Manila. The others come from Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Taiwan and Vietnam, and are to be sent back to their home countries after deportation orders are issued, the Bureau of Immigration (BI) said.

“Let this serve as a warning to aliens planning to use the country as a base for their illegal operations,” Jaime Morente, the bureau’s commissioner, said in a statement.

“Expect more arrests in the coming days,” he said without elaborating.

In addition to the 312 adults who were deported, 21 minors were turned over to the Chinese embassy and sent back to China as well, BI Intelligence Chief Fortunato Manahan Jr. said.

Beijing already cancelled their passports, meaning they were undocumented aliens in the Philippines, officials said.

The Chinese flew out on five chartered China Eastern flights, which were bound for Shijiazhuang in Hebei province and Changchun in Jilin province. Filipino immigration officials and their Chinese counterparts escorted the deportees, Morente said.

‘A risk to public security’

More than 200,000 Chinese nationals work in the Philippines and most are employed in the gaming industry, government data shows.

Three months ago, China’s foreign ministry called on Manila to ban online gaming involving Chinese citizens as Beijing sought support in cracking down on cross-border gambling. The Chinese government said a Chinese crime gang could be using casinos to embezzle and launder money.

Meanwhile, 36 Japanese nationals linked to a telecommunications scam were arrested by government agents on Wednesday at their hideout in the Makati financial district of Manila, officials said Thursday.

Two of those arrested had outstanding arrest warrants in Japan on theft charges, according to Morente.

“The presence of these criminals in the country is a risk to public security. We will keep our strong ties with our partners until the last foreign fugitive is hunted, deported and blacklisted,” he said, adding the group allegedly victimized at least 1,393 Japanese nationals.

Jeoffrey Maitem in Cotabato, Philippines, contributed to this report.

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