Chinese National Arrested for Bribery Charges in the Philippines

The Philippine National Police’s (PNP) National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) announced the arrests of two Chinese nationals as local police served a search warrant in the metro Manila area on April 14th. The NCRPO‘s Regional Special Operations Group (RSOG) and other police officers executed the warrant at a residence in Taguig City in relation to a 24-year-old Chinese national, Su Haiqiang, for allegedly “violating Section 28 par. (a) of TA 10591 (Comprehensive Firearms and Ammunition Regulation Act).”

Search Warrant and Attempted Bribery

The RSOG officers located various firearms and various types of ammunition as they searched the house for the individual. The officers found one Daniel Defense Black M4 Carbine 5.56mm rifle; two magazines for 5.56mm ammunition; 36 rounds of 5.56mm; six rounds of 9mm ammunition; one M16 airsoft rifle; one Honor Fantastic airsoft pistol; and one Walther airsoft pistol. They also located one WE airsoft pistol, one Of Gamo Tactical scope, two unspecified hand grenades, one black and one coyote brown tactical vest, and one tactical helmet with black “China” nametape on top. Among the items were also three pistol holsters, three IDs: one Chinese, two Philippine IDs, one Chinese flag, and one black backpack.

Items PNP seized during arrest of Chinese national on April 14th (Photo: National Capital Region Police Office)

The officers also confiscated one McLaren GTR sports car and took it to the Officer of Anti-Carnapping for investigation and to verify its ownership due to the potential for illegal vehicle transfers and the use of improvised plates. They also confiscated one Honqi electric SUV, one KTM sports bike, and one unidentified electric bike for not having proper documents. The NCRPO’s chief, PNP Major General Jose Melencio C. Nartatez Jr. said that the PNP will continue to investigate to locate and confiscate more “illegally possessed firearms” that could be used for criminal purposes. Nartatez also said they will also investigate the McLaren’s origin, other “luxury cars,” and the electric SUV due to the unclear origin of the vehicles. He specifically pointed out the McLaren due to its cost and the individuals did not provide any documents establishing ownership of the car. The officers also detained two other Chinese nationals who were at the residence during the operation until their identities could be verified.

PNP officers searching McLaren GTR sports car during (Photo: National Capital Region Police Office)

An individual, Jerry Mari S. Cheng, arrived at the RSOG’s headquarters after police officers moved the detained individuals to the facility. Cheng handed Zhuang Guangdong, one of the detained individuals who police released, two black paper bags with “9 Dynasty Group” labels. He then approached one officer outside the compound and attempted to bribe them with 3 million PHP ($51,836 USD) if he released the other Chinese nationals. However, the RSOG officers arrested Zhuang after he attempted to bribe the officers while Cheng left the area after giving him the paper bags. Authorities said that Zhuang will face “corruption of public officials” charges while they continue efforts to locate Cheng. Nartatez pointed out that the incident “serves as a powerful testament to the steadfast dedication of our officers in upholding the rule of law and serving the public with honor and integrity.” He also highlighted the police officer’s conduct and professionalism during the attempted bribery incident at the RSOG headquarters.

China’s Response 

On April 18th, the Chinese Embassy in the Philippines released a statement in response to the arrest of the Chinese nationals. The statement said that any form of gambling is illegal according to Chinese law and that China opposes any of its nationals traveling overseas to engage in gambling. The spokesperson also said that China requires all its citizens to abide by local laws and regulations when traveling overseas. The statement pointed out that gambling is “a social menace” and that Chinese nationals are victims of offshore gambling. The embassy will continue to communicate with Philippine law enforcement agencies on crimes related to Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGO) and support the country in solving “the stubborn problems related to offshore gambling at the earliest possible time.”

9 Dynasty Group

The bags that Cheng and Zhuang used to carry the money to bribe the police likely came from the 9 Dynasty Group. There are four companies that are connected to or associated with 9 Dynasty Group: 9 Dynasty Charity Inc., 9 Dynasty Consultancy Corporation, 9 Dynasty Group Inc., and 9 Dynasty Holding Inc. The Philippine Securities Exchange Commission records indicate that all four businesses have been registered corporations in the Philippines since 2021. Specifically, the PHSEC records show that 9 Dynasty Group Inc. was established in the Philippines in November 2021, followed by 9 Dynasty Charity Inc. in May 2022, 9 Dynasty Consultancy Corporation in July 2022, and 9 Dynasty Holding Inc. in October 2022.

Four companies associated with name “9 Dynasty Holding” (Photo: Screenshot/Philippine Securities Exchange Commission)

The company 9 Dynasty Group Inc. is a POGO that offers junket gambling events in six countries: Cambodia, Japan, the Philippines, South Korea, Thailand, and Vietnam. Furthermore, the firm’s website only lists six casino resorts located in metro Manila, Mabalacat City, Cebu City, and Incheon, South Korea. The company has also had a significant footprint at the Inspire Entertainment Resort located in Incheon, South Korea, since its opening in March 2024.

Map showing 9 Dynasty Holding’s presence in countries in the Indo-Pacific region

The company also offers other services such as egambling/egaming (9D Gaming), currency transfers and financial management (9D Bank), banking (9D Agent), and USDT exchanges and transfers (9D Guarantee). The 9D Agent, 9D Bank, and 9D Gaming services also have apps that individuals can only download from the company’s website. The egaming app provides people with the ability to remotely play table games and other games at all 9 Dynasty’s major halls. The banking app allows users to complete streamlined “real-time exchange rate conversions” for commonly used currencies such as HKD, PHP, UAE Dirham, USD, and USDT to facilitate collection and payment processes.

Screenshot from 9 Dynasty Group website that describes the company’s 9D Guarantee service

The agent app allows individuals to complete online business and contains diverse data that members can access in real time to easily create and make money instantly. The last service, 9D Guarantee, allows people to complete transactions in USDT and accept third-party, four-party payments, buying and selling USDT, to take out guarantees and loans. However, 9D Guarantee also allows individuals the ability to complete smurfing transactions in USDT. Smurfing is a money-laundering technique that allows individuals to avoid detection by breaking up large amounts of money into smaller transactions and placing them into different accounts.

Screenshot of 9 Dynasty Group’s 2023 commemorative video showing emojis used to cover employee’s faces

The firm employs anywhere between 250 and 300 employees based on its overall size and the locations of its business operations. The company also recruits from China, Taiwan, and the Philippines based on the photographs, videos, social media, and job advertisements it publishes. A piece of evidence that also reinforces this claim is the business’s requirement that employees have to be either fluent in or have a good basic understanding of Chinese. Attempts at identifying the 9 Dynasty Chinese employees and executives were difficult due to the photographer’s use of emojis and camera angles to obscure their faces.

For example, the company posted a video in February 2024 that commemorated all the significant events they held in 2023, such as the February 2023 Amanpulo Island trip, the August 2023 exclusive Hermes event, and the December 2023 launch of the company’s library. Attempts at identifying the 9 Dynasty Chinese employees and executives were difficult due to the photographer’s use of emojis and camera angles to obscure their faces. However, some executives show their faces during interviews with news outlets, public appearances, or company events. The best examples are the 2023 commemorative video and the video 9 Dynasty Group released showing their attendance at the 2023 Sigma Asia show in Manila.

Screenshot of October 2023 interview 9 Dynasty did with Filipino fisherman about Japan’s dumping treated waste water from Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant

The company has a significant social media presence, maintaining Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, YouTube, and Weibo profiles. Most of the posts consist of videos the company made to advertise its junket casinos, egaming, membership perks, and transfer businesses. Furthermore, the posts also include videos of past expos they appeared at, the various tournaments they hold, and parties they have on their yacht. However, the company also posted two videos in August and October 2023 that were unrelated to their casino business. The first video was an interview 9 Dynasty did with a Filipino fisherman, who pointed out the repercussions of Japan releasing treated wastewater from the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant.

9 Dynasty Group banner and sign during charity event in Balagtas, Bulacan province held in October 2023

The second video was of company employees handing out food parcels to residents living in the town of Balagtas, Bulacan province, after sustaining floods throughout 2023. The employees also displayed a banner and a sign with the company’s logo during the event. The company also uses the Telegram messaging app for various purposes, such as advertising, booking, conducting transactions, and exchanges. Telegram links are also embedded in certain parts of the company’s website to send individuals to the correct chatroom for the services they want, such as completing transfers or to book services.

Analysis 

The April 14th arrest of the Chinese national for attempted bribery indicates that the 9 Dynasty Group likely has some connections to a Chinese criminal group. For example, the PNP found one rifle, two grenades, several rounds of 5.56mm and 9mm, and two tactical vests during a search of the residence where they served the warrant. Furthermore, the PNP also seized several vehicles, such as the McLaren GTR, during the search. The weapons and McLaren the officers seized indicate that the Chinese individual is a part of a Chinese criminal group that operates in the Philippines.

The individual and the criminal group likely have the connections and funds to buy firearms on the black market since foreign nationals are prohibited from buying or owning firearms in the Philippines. The three million PHP that the two individuals attempted to bribe the police officers also points to the individual’s belonging to a criminal group. The two individuals’ ability to obtain a large amount of money in such a short time indicates that they had it ready for these situations. However, the Chinese national attempting to bribe the police officer outside the RSOG Headquarters indicates that he bribed police officers previously. For example, the individual casually walked up to the officer in broad daylight and attempted to bribe him.

The arrest also illustrates the various issues that surround offshore gambling operators in the Philippines. The various POGOs that operate in the country likely have connections to various Chinese criminal groups. These groups chose to establish these casinos in the Philippines because of the country’s weak regulations. The weak regulations attract the groups because they are able to operate scam centers more freely than in other locations in Southeast Asia. The casinos also specifically target Chinese tourists to entice them to spend large amounts of money at either their casino junkets or through their egaming app. Furthermore, the company designed its social media presence to draw in individuals who want to live a ‘luxury lifestyle.’ The criminal groups also use POGOs to facilitate the laundering of large amounts of money, making them harder to trace.

For example, the company allows individuals to transfer funds from mainland China to foreign countries through Hong Kong using various currencies. The currencies that 9 Dynasty selected for use as transfers indicate that the company likely set up the banking app to launder money. However, one of the currencies that 9 Dynasty Group selected is from the UAE, a country previously included on the Financial Action Task Force’s Grey List since 2022 due to deficiencies in its AntiMoney Laundering (AML) systems. Another means that the company uses to effectively launder money is moving using USDT, which allows both the company and the individual to evade AML systems and regulations on reporting large transactions.

The use of emojis and camera angles to prevent the identification of 9 Dynasty Group employees indicates that 9 Dynasty Group does not want its Chinese employees to be identified. The reason why is because the employees are held against their will after being tricked into coming to the Philippines. These scam centers are known to manipulate susceptible Chinese citizens into traveling to the Philippines or other countries to work in call centers. Brokers would entice individuals to travel to the Philippines disguised as members of tourist groups to enter the country. The individuals would then work at the centers for significantly less than what the brokers had originally promised them. The individuals cannot escape from the centers because the captors took their passports and other IDs, as well as not having any money.

The August and October 2023 videos that the 9 Dynasty Group published illustrate the potential relationship between China and these junket casinos/criminal groups. The complicated relationship between China and criminal groups is evident even though the Chinese government actively attempts to shut down the groups’ gambling operations. The Chinese government understands it can use these criminal groups to push its narratives and increase its influence in the Philippines and other countries. The August 2023 video about Japan releasing treated wastewater from Fukushima is an example of this dynamic since the video pushed China’s narrative about the plan.

For example, the fisherman said that the water will hurt their livelihoods due to its radioactive waters, which will hurt the fish population in waters near the Philippine coast. The comments the fisherman made during the interview fit into China’s narrative related to Japan’s plan involving discharging wastewater from the Fukushima plant. Another aspect of the relationship is how these organizations will act to indirectly increase China’s influence in the Philippines. For example, the October 2023 video of 9 Dynasty Group employees handing out meals was done to show the Philippine people that the company and, by extension, China are providing aid. However, the aid the company provided was small, indicating that the delivery was done for propaganda purposes rather than to provide any substantive assistance.

Joaquin Camarena
Joaquin Camarena
Joaquin the panda began Sino Talk in 2022 primarily to give an objective, unbiased view on China related topics as well as other issues related to the Indo-Pacific region. He spent several years studying and traveling throughout China and many countries in the Indo-Pacific region. In another life, the panda was also a U.S. Marine intelligence analyst who enjoyed bamboo MREs and drinking bourbon and soju. Indo-Pacific Division Desk Chief for Atlas News.

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