Manila, Philippines (BBN) – After a 3-week pause, the Senate probe into the $81-million Bangladesh Bank (BB) fund heist will resume on May 17, focusing on transactions of 3 central parties involved.
After 6 hearings on the money laundering scandal, Senator Teofisto “TG” Guingona III said the Senate blue ribbon committee will cross-examine the phone records of casino junket agent, reports Rappler.com.
This “will hopefully clarify who called whom during the deliveries” of laundered stolen funds, said Guingona, who heads the committee, in a statement on Thursday, May 5.
PhilRem’s accountant, who has remained incognito until the last hearing was suspended, is also expected to appear.
On Wednesday, May 4, Wong completed the promised turnover of P488.28 million and $4.63 million to the Anti Money Laundering Council (AMLC) for safekeeping.
“The completion of the promised P450 million is part of our country’s contribution to Bangladesh’s continuous bid to recover the $81 million stolen from their funds. The Senate blue ribbon [committee’s] work is paying off,” Guingona said.
AMLC has filed criminal complaints against Wong, Deguito, and the PhilRem owners before the Department of Justice for violating the Anti-Money Laundering Act.
AMLC has also started its bid to seize all assets related to the heist through a civil forfeiture case.
Foreign bank execs, SWIFT to meet
Meanwhile, Bangladesh Bank Governor Fazle Kabir is set to meet with Federal Reserve Bank of New York President William Dudley and officials of Belgium-based SWIFT in Switzerland next week.
“Bangladesh’s central bank chief is set to meet with the head of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York next week, reportedly to seek the recovery of the stolen funds. I think our hearings have laid the first stone to that path,” Guingona said in a statement.
Hackers had tried to steal $1 billion worth of funds from the Bangladesh Bank account at the Federal Reserve Bank in early February.
Of the total amount, about $81 million entered the Philippines through fictitious bank accounts at RCBC, while the rest were stopped.
Bangladesh Bank earlier said both the New York Fed and SWIFT are responsible for failing to prevent the bank heist.
This, however, was denied by SWIFT, saying its messaging systems have not been compromised.
“The security and integrity of our messaging services are not in question as a result of the reported incident,” SWIFT said in a letter to Bangladesh Bank.
“We sincerely regret that the impacted user has not been more forthcoming with any further information as to the details of this fraud; we also recognize the urgency of your requests and the importance of relaying relevant information that might enable you to address any local vulnerabilities,” it added.
According to SWIFT, the extended silence from the “impacted user” is unacceptable and poses risks to the community.
“Rest assured that, together with key payments industry participants, we are doing everything we can to encourage the user in question to release relevant information to help counter any similar incidents,” SWIFT said.