UCPB leadership revamped, crack probers sent in after hacking | Inquirer Business
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UCPB leadership revamped, crack probers sent in after hacking

By: - Reporter / @daxinq
/ 05:22 AM September 04, 2020

A crack team of auditors from Land Bank of the Philippines and Philippine Deposit Insurance Corp. (PDIC) was ordered to conduct a thorough examination of the inner workings of United Coconut Planters Bank (UCPB) as soon as the country’s economic managers were made aware of a successful computer hacking that left the government-controlled bank P167 million poorer.

The Inquirer learned that no less than Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III ordered the probe a few days after learning about the cyberheist that occurred over the three-day weekend of June 12 when the country celebrated its Independence Day.

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The probers were ordered to determine how the hackers were able to penetrate the computer systems of UCPB, as well as to check whether the theft was aided or abetted by bank insiders.

In addition, UCPB is now being led by a former ranking official of Land Bank of the Philippines, Liduvino Geron, who was named the bank’s officer in charge since July 2, two weeks after the heist was uncovered.

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The UCPB board is also loaded with appointees of PDIC, by virtue of the deposit insurer having extended it a P20-billion in liquidity assistance in 2008—a loan that has since been converted to give government a 97-percent stake in the bank.

The Inquirer also learned that the move to put UCPB under closer supervision of bankers from Landbank and PDIC regulators came after the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) and the Commission on Audit (COA) released their respective reports on the bank, which raised issues with the financial institution’s operations and internal systems.

“They had lousy controls, lax internal security, their IT [systems] were weak, and their loans looked bad,” said one official familiar with the BSP and COA reports. “That’s why the leadership was immediately revamped.”

As this developed, the BSP confirmed that it was “well aware of the reported UCPB incident and has been in close coordination with the bank since the early part of its investigation.”

“UCPB is undertaking the necessary remedial measures to heighten cybersecurity, including collaborating with the [National Bureau of Investigation] for the investigation and eventual prosecution of the suspected criminals,” BSP Governor Benjamin Diokno said in a mobile phone message to reporters.

The central bank chief said initial investigation results also indicated that “no financial losses or damages were incurred by UCPB account holders in this particular incident.”

“We remain steadfast in fully resolving the matter as we work closely with the bank and relevant law enforcement agency,” Diokno said. “Rest assured, in pursuit of our cybersecurity agenda, that we continue to collaborate and engage the BSP-supervised financial institutions to ensure the safety and integrity of the financial system as well as the protection of the financial consumers.”

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TAGS: Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III, Hacking, United Coconut Planters Bank (UCPB)
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