Manila, Philippines (BBN) – Bangladesh Bank (BB) wants Rizal Commercial Banking (RCBC) in the Philippines to return the balance of $81 million stolen from the central bank’s account in New York early this year.
Law Minister Anisul Huq led a high-level delegation to Manila to meet Philippine counterparts and seek official assistance retrieving the outstanding $66 million, reports Nikkei Asian Review.
“RCBC should come up with the money,” Mr. Huq was quoted by the Nikkei Asian Review as saying on Tuesday.
In February, hackers transferred funds from the Bangladesh Bank’s foreign reserve account at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York to four fictitious accounts at an RCBC branch in the Philippines. The money was then quickly withdrawn and funneled into local casinos by a local remittance company.
The delegation sought to meet President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday, but “pressing national security matters” prevented this happening. Instead, Senate President Aquilino Pimentel promised to reopen an unfinished congressional inquiry into the cyberheist.
Top officials in the finance and justice departments and industry regulator Philippine Amusement and Gaming (PAGCOR) also assured assistance.
The central bank of Bangladesh has recovered $15 million out of the $81 million with court assistance after securing court orders to transfer funds in their favor returned by Kami Sin Wong, a casino junket operator, to the Philippine central bank.
In mitigation, RCBC described the Bangladesh central bank as “negligent.”
“RCBC is not the proximate cause of the theft,” RCBC lawyer Thea Daep said on Tuesday. “They have no case against us.”
The controversy has led to the resignation of senior RCBC officials, including President Lorenzo V. Tan. On Tuesday, RCBC disclosed to the stock exchange the resignations of three more senior officers, including the head of legal and regulatory affairs.
The central bank has fined RCBC one billion pesos ($20.07 million) for its involvement in the robbery, and the Anti-Money Laundering Council also filed criminal charges against senior RCBC officials.
“The due process prevalent in the Philippines will be followed,” said Huq with regard to initiating legal action against RCBC. He said there have been assurances the money will be recovered by other means.