Manila, Philippines (BBN)-The scheduled meeting between President Rodrigo Duterte and ranking officials of Bangladesh has been cancelled, according to a Palace official of Philippines.
Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella on Monday said the meeting was cancelled due to “pressing matters that demand the President’s immediate attention”, reports The Daily Inquirer
A high-powered Bangladesh’s delegation was scheduled to meet Philippine President Duterte Monday afternoon in a last-ditch bid for bringing back the entire stolen reserves.
The delegation left Dhaka for Manila Saturday night to expedite efforts with the Philippines to retrieve the entire stolen money.
“At any rate said Bangladeshi officials have already meet with various heads of agencies to discuss matters regarding the heist,” Abella said in a statement.
The ranking Bangladesh officials were set to meet with Duterte to press for the return of more missing funds that were laundered in the Philippines earlier this year, the biggest money laundering scandal to hit the country.
So far, Bangladesh has recovered $15 million of the funds stolen by hackers from its central bank last February.
The Filipino president earlier had promised to return the entire money stolen from the Bangladesh Bank’s reserve account with the US Federal Reserve Bank in New York.
Hackers tried to steal nearly $1.0 billion from the BB account at the Fed early February this calendar year, and succeeded in digitally burgling out $81 million into four accounts at RCBC (Rizal Commercial Banking Corp) in Manila in what is dubbed biggest such cyber heist.
The cyber fraud took place on the night of February 04, sending a total of 35 transfer orders into the US Federal Reserve Bank where the BB maintains its foreign-exchange account.
Of the 35 transfer orders placed, 30 were blocked. Four transfers to the Philippine bank for a total of $81 million went through. The rest $20 million transferred to a Sri Lankan non-government organisation was reversed because the hackers mis-spelled the name of the entity.
Nearly $20 million of the total amount of $101 million siphoned off was recovered from Sri Lanka shortly after the trans-national cyber-heist.
The Bangladeshi officials were led by the South Asian nation’s minister of law, justice and parliamentary affairs, attorney general, central bank governor, Ministry of Finance secretary and a parliamentarian.
The Bangladeshi delegation was also set to meet with Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III, Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II, Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III and Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Governor Amando Tetangco Jr. during their four-day visit, according to Bangladesh ambassador to the Philippines John Gomes.
Christopher “Bong” Go, special assistant to the President, denied reports that Duterte allegedly collapsed in Malacañang was the reason why the meeting was called off.
While saying that he will still look into the matter, Communications Secretary Martin Andanar said: “So far negative. There’s no such story.”