Bangladesh to seek compensation from RCBC for laundering losses
Encouraged by the recovery of a fraction of the $81 million lost in a daring cyber heist earlier this year, a delegation of high-ranking Bangladeshi officials will meet with President Duterte today to press for the return of more missing funds that were laundered in the Philippines.
Led by the South Asian nation’s minister of law, justice and parliamentary affairs, the officials are also banking on a commitment made by then Rizal Commercial Banking Corp. president and CEO Lorenzo Tan that, if found liable, the bank at the center of the biggest money-laundering scandal to hit the country would voluntarily compensate Bangladesh for its losses.
“Definitely, we would seek for RCBC to release some money,” Bangladesh’s ambassador to the Philippines John Gomes said in an interview with the Inquirer. “In the Senate hearing, they had informed [the public] that if RCBC was made liable, they would take it to their board to compensate [Bangladesh] with $50 million. This amount was very clearly mentioned.”
Bangladesh has so far recovered $15 million of the funds stolen by hackers from its central bank last February, funneled into the local financial system through RCBC, before finding their way to the gaming tables at Solaire Resort and Casino. The amount was voluntarily turned over by casino junket operator Kim Wong to the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) after the scandal broke, with Wong claiming the funds were brought in by Chinese gamblers and that he was unaware they were stolen.
Gomes said the Bangladeshi delegation—which will also include the country’s attorney general, central bank governor, Ministry of Finance secretary and a parliamentarian—will officially convey its government’s gratitude to the Philippines for efforts to recover the missing funds and prosecute those who were guilty for aiding and abetting the crime.
The Bangladeshi officials will also meet with Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III as well as Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II to get the latest developments on cases filed against officials of RCBC and money changer Philrem Service Corp., which facilitated the conversion of the funds into local currency.
“RCBC said if they were made liable, they would put it up to the board,” Gomes said, reiterating his stand that the Yuchengco-controlled bank was liable for not stopping the release of the stolen funds despite a so-called “stop payment” order conveyed to it subsequently.
“Now this is one of our main points. It was discussed in the Senate and they had given us sort of a commitment that they will put this up to the board and let the Senate know. Now that they have been made liable—because of the fine [imposed by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas] and the cases filed against their officials—definitely we would seek for RCBC to release some money,” the ambassador said.
Gomes said the Bangladeshi delegation would also meet with Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III and BSP Governor Amando Tetangco Jr. during their four-day visit.
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