Catholic bishops have spoken out against the growing casino industry in the face of a money laundering scandal that has rocked the country's gaming and financial systems. The bishops entered the first day after Easter by expressing concern over a bank heist that exposed the Philippines as a dirty money destination. The prelates were referring to the US$81 million stolen from Bangladesh that went into a commercial bank in the Philippines, and from there, to a local money-transfer firm, and then into the casinos. In a statement titled "Money Laundering in the Gambling Republic
," the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines said "no one pulls off a criminal stunt like this alone," hinting that syndicates may have colluded with bank executives and even public officials. "Casinos of course can be avenues of money-laundering, and it is just not possible to include within legislation whatever means criminals, in their ingenuity, may make use of to make proceeds of criminal activity take on the appearance of legitimate currency and earnings," said Archbishop Socrates Villegas of Lingayen-Dagupan, the bishops' conference president.