Manila, Philippines (BBN) – The Bangladesh Bank (BB) is a step closer to recovering a portion of the US$81 million fund stolen by hackers from its account at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
Anti Money Laundering Council executive director Julia Bacay-Abad said on the sidelines of the 100th anniversary celebration of the Philippine National Bank (PNB) a lower court in Manila already granted its petition for civil forfeiture filed last May, reports the Philippines Star.
Abad said the forfeiture order covers the funds amounting to about $15 million turned over by casino junket operator Kim Wong to the AMLC in April and May.
Abad said the Bangladesh government should now file a third party claim so the funds currently kept at the vault of the BSP would finally be released.
Under the rule on civil forfeiture, any person or party who has a claim on the amount forfeited should file a verified petition with the same court that rendered the order of forfeiture.
Last April 18, Regional Trial Court in the National Capital Region Executive Judge Reynaldo Alhambra issued a provisional asset preservation order (PAPO) forbidding the respondents from transacting, withdrawing, transferring, removing, converting, concealing or disposing the assets covered by the order for a period of 20 days.
AMLC filed the civil forfeiture case docketed under AMLC Case 16 -003-53 against Wong and his Eastern Hawaii Leisure Co. Ltd, Centurytex Trading owned by businessman William Go, Rizal Commercial Banking Corp. (RCBC), and Philippine National Bank (PNB).

The order covered Wong’s PNB account (0271054307) with balance of P4.46 million, Eastern Hawaii’s PNB account (0271054617) with balance amounting to P5.74 million, and the RCBC account (9010270206) of Go’s Centurytex Trading with a balance of P19,983.63.
In its petition, AMLC said the accounts of Wong, Eastern Hawaii, and Centurytex are related to an unlawful activity of hacking in violation of RA 8792 or the E-Commerce Act which is a predicate crime to RA 9160 or the Anti Money Laundering Act of 2001.
During one of the hearings at the Senate, Abad said AMLC is still looking for around $21 million as it already accounted for about $60 million. These included the $15 million turned over by Wong, the $28 million with Solaire Casino, and the $17 million allegedly with Philrem Services Corp.
Both the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) and the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee have completed their investigation on the $81 million bank heist.
The cyber fraud took place on the night of February 4 through sending a total of 35 transfer orders to the US Federal Reserve Bank in New York, where the central bank of Bangladesh maintains an account.
Nearly $20 million of the $101 million siphoned off money was recovered from Sri Lanka. The lion’s share of the money landed in the Philippines.

BBN/SSR/AD