Manila, Philippines (BBN)– The unauthorized transfer of $81 million from the Bangladesh Bank (BB) to entities in the Philippines through Rizal Commercial Banking Corp, International Monetary Fund (IMF) has said.
The RCBC has highlighted the need to tighten the country’s anti-money laundering laws, it added, reports the Philippine Star.
Chikahisa Sumi, head of the IMF mission to the Philippines, said there was also a need to ease the bank secrecy law in the country to be at par with international standards.
Hackers tried to steal $1.0 billion from the account of the BB at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York last February. Of the 35 transactions, a total of 30 transactions were foiled.
The RCBC of taipan Alfonso Yuchengco was dragged into the money laundering scandal after it was used as a conduit by hackers.
However, a total of five transactions worth $81 million were consummated through fictitious accounts at the RCBC Jupiter branch in Makati City allegedly facilitated by dismissed branch manager Maia Santos-Deguito and customer relations manager Angela Torres.
Both employees were dismissed by RCBC while Deguito, who dragged resigned president Lorenzo Tan into the scandal, is now facing several criminal cases filed by RCBC and the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) for violating the Anti-Money Laundering Act (AMLA).
The AMLC has filed several cases against several personalities and Philrem Services of the Bautista family before the Department of Justice.
Both the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) as well as the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee have completed their respective investigations on the money laundering scandal.
The BSP has also revoked the licenses of Philrem Services, Peso Remittance Express Inc., and Werquick Inc. for various violations in connection with the $81 million bank heist.
BSP Governor Amando Tetangco Jr. said both the IMF and the central bank’s Monetary Board are one in pushing amendments to the anti-money laundering law to include casinos, real estate brokers, and art dealers.
“That is actually a reiteration of what was discussed before – that we support the amendment of the anti-money laundering law, to include casinos as covered institutions under the AMLA. And also to include tax evasion as a predicate crime,” he said.
Tetangco said the Department of Finance had already forwarded to Congress the proposed amendments to AMLA and the Bank Deposit Secrecy Law for tax evasion purposes.