Manila, Philippines (BBN) – Bangladesh is expecting the resumption of the hearing of the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee to focus on the involvement of Rizal Commercial Banking Corporation (RCBC) in the $81 million heist.
The Government of Bangladesh will like to know more about the involvement of the Pilipino bank –RCBC –in the money laundering scandal, according to the Bangladesh Ambassador to the Philippines John Gomes.
“In the previous hearings we did not get the complete results about the role of RCBC because they were invoking the bank secrecy law and all,” Mr. Gomes was quoted by the Philippines Star, a local newspaper, as saying.
He also said the previous hearings conducted by former senators focused on dismissed RCBC Jupiter branch bank manager Maia Santos-Deguito and Philrem Services.
“Everything was targeted toward Deguito. I feel there are other responsible persons RCBC is one, Philrem is another one, and William Go’s involvement.”
Philrem and the Bautista couple have to account for the $17.2 million as casino junket operator Kim Wong has already turned over $15 million to the Anti Money Laundering Council (AMLC) for safekeeping, according to the envoy.
“It is the Bautistas who will know where the money is. There are a lot of questions that Philrem has to answer for. That is why we want another Senate hearing is for Philrem to answer for those $17.2 million.”
He said the Bangladesh government would write a letter to Senate President Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III to seek the reopening of the investigation on the funds stolen by hackers from its account with the Federal Reserve Bank of New York in February.
The scandal has led to the resignation of former RCBC president and CEO Lorenzo Tan and treasurer Raul Tan. RCBC, based on its internal investigation, cleared both officials of any role in the $81 million cyber theft.
The listed bank also dismissed Deguito and customer relations officer Angela Torres for facilitating the transaction involving the funds stolen from the Bangladesh Bank.
Mr. Gomes said Bangladesh believes RCBC was “definitely responsible” for the disappearance of the money having cleared the transaction despite the “urgent stop payment” orders from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
“If they put the red flag on, then none of this would have happened. I still believe RCBC has to answer. The resignation of the RCBC president, the resignation of the chief of treasury, obviously these are indicating that they are definitely responsible.”
Earlier on Friday last, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP), the country’s central bank, slapped a record P1 billion fine against the RCBC for non-compliance with banking laws and regulations in connection with the money laundering scandal.
RCBC president and CEO Gil Buenaventura said the bank would pay the fine in two equal tranches over a one-year period.
Buenaventura said RCBC already has provisions for the payment of the fine. The first P500 million would be paid upon approval by the central bank’s Monetary Board and the balance of P500 million one year after.
Cyber criminals sent 35 orders using the SWIFT financial messaging system to transfer around $951 million out of the Bangladesh Bank (BB)’s account at the New York Federal Reserve Bank on February 4 night to a series of private accounts in other countries.
The New York Federal Reserve Bank executed five of these orders, transferring a total of $101 million to four private accounts in the Philippines and one to the account of a non-governmental organisation in Sri Lanka.
Nearly $20 million of the $101 million siphoned off was recovered from Sri Lanka. The lion’s share of the money, $81 million, landed in the Philippines.