Bangladesh presses Philippine government on fund recovery

Lawrence Agcaoili (The Philippine Star) - July 22, 2016 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - The Bangladesh government is appealing to the Duterte administration to speed up the recovery of the $81 million stolen by hackers that found its way to the Philippines via the Rizal Commercial Banking Corp. (RCBC).

“If the President is so serious about crime and corruption. I think this is an issue that should be addressed also. This is a crime committed against another country,” Bangladesh Ambassador John Gomes told participants of a roundtable discussion held yesterday at the Asian Institute of Management (AIM).

Gomes said the Bangladesh government is confident the $15 million turned over by casino junket operator Kim Wong to the Anti Money Laundering Council (AMLC) would be returned to the Bangladesh Bank within a month.

A regional trial court in Manila has granted the petition for partial forfeiture involving the funds abandoned by Gao Shuhua at Wong’s Eastern Hawaii Leisure Co. Ltd.

AMLC legal officer IV Arnold Frane told the forum the Bangladesh government has 15 days to file a third party claim to recover the $15 million kept in the vault of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP).

Gomes said he also talked with Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (Pagcor) chief Andrea Domingo to recover another $2.75 million frozen account at the Solaire Resort and Casino.

Gomes said another team from Bangladesh is due next month and would meet with officials of the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Office of the Solicitor General.

He added the Bangladesh government is working closely with the Criminal Investigation Department, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and the Interpol for the recovery of the stolen funds.

Likewise, Gomes said the Bangladesh government is awaiting the results of the investigation conducted by the BSP on the banks as well as personalities involved in the money laundering scandal.

The scandal resulted in the resignation of RCBC president and CEO Lorenzo Tan as well as bank treasurer Raul Tan and the dismissal of RCBC Jupiter branch manager Maia Santos-Deguito as well as customer relation manager Angela Torres.

“The president and treasurer resigned. We want to find out what is their accountability because the image of the Philippines has been damaged. The Federal Reserve Bank is upset on how a huge chunk of the money came through RCBC,” he said.

According to Gomes, he is still puzzled how the stolen funds from the Bangladesh central bank was quickly processed by RCBC through withdrawals from Feb. 9 to 13 despite the stop payment order issued by the Federal Reserve Bank on Feb. 8.

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