RCBC fined P1B over Bangladesh cyberheist
Banking regulators on Friday imposed a P1-billion fine on the Yuchengco family-controlled Rizal Commercial Banking Corp. (RCBC) for its role in the Bangladesh Bank cyberheist in February that enabled criminals to transfer $81 million to four accounts at an RCBC branch in Makati City.
In a statement issued late Friday, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) said the penalty represented “the largest amount ever approved as part of its supervisory enforcement actions on a BSP-supervised financial institution.”
RCBC said separately that it would pay the fine in two tranches of P500 million over a one-year period.
The fine imposed on RCBC marks a sharp departure from the BSP’s standard practice of imposing a legally mandated fine of P30,000 per violation per day on financial institutions found to have violated banking regulations.
“This affirms the BSP’s strong commitment to ensure the stability of the country’s financial system through strong and effective regulations of BSP-supervised financial institutions,” the central bank said.
RCBC was embroiled in a money-laundering controversy in February when cybercriminals used it as a conduit for funds stolen from the Bangladeshi central bank’s accounts with the US Federal Reserve Bank in New York. A total of $1 billion was stolen by still unidentified hackers, but $870 million in transfers were stopped, while $81 million entered the RCBC system and were subsequently found to have been laundered through local casinos.
RCBC said it would comply with the fine imposed under Monetary Board Resolution No. 1392 by paying the penalty to the BSP.
“The (P1-billion fine) shall be paid in two equal tranches over a one-year period,” the bank said, explaining that the first P500 million would be paid upon approval by the Monetary Board and the balance of P500 million one year after.
Also Friday, Bangladeshi Ambassador to Manila John Gomes and officials from the Bangladesh Bank renewed their call for the return of the stolen funds, about $15 million of which was either turned over by casino junket operator Kim Wong to the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) or frozen by Solaire Resort and Casino.
Gomes, in particular, pointed to RCBC’s accountability for allowing the funds wired to it to be withdrawn despite having been sent “stop payment” orders by frantic Bangladeshi officials after they discovered the heist.
The Bangladeshi official also said he was encouraged by the enthusiastic response he had received from officials of the Duterte administration. TVJ