This undated photo shows a branch of EastWest Banking Corp.

Still 'premature' to say missing EastWest bank deposits were stolen — BSP

Ian Nicolas Cigaral (Philstar.com) - January 15, 2021 - 12:08pm

MANILA, Philippines — It is still too early to conclude that the missing deposit funds of two clients of EastWest Banking Corp. were stolen by a staff who disappeared following the incident, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas said Friday.

The BSP already launched an investigation into what seemed to be an unauthorized transaction that led to the disappearance of deposit funds of two clients of the Gotianun-led lender. "It is still premature to say at this point whether the missing deposits are already considered stolen," BSP Deputy Governor Chuchi Fonacier said in a text message when sought for details.

On Wednesday, EastWest confirmed the incident, saying a female branch manager went missing together with the deposits of two customers with whom she had been transacting for years.

The lender did not reveal the amount that went lost but said it was "not significant." The incident was limited to one branch, which the bank also declined to disclose.

As the case of missing deposits remains unsolved, investors continued to sell EastWest shares. As of 11:40 a.m. Friday, the bank's stocks were trading down 0.39% to P10.32 each, putting the company on track for a second straight day of decline.

"We have been in touch with the two affected depositors. They have been informed that an internal investigation is ongoing and that we will credit back to their account the amount taken," EastWest said in a statement.

For now, there are not much details available about the incident and the BSP, as banking regulator, only went as far as saying that consumer complaints of this kind are being dealt with seriously, while assuring other depositors that their funds remain safe in banks.

The central bank also said there is no need yet to tap the Philippine National Police and National Bureau of Investigation amid the probe.

"Target of completion (of investigation) would depend on the extent of the coverage which we are currently considering," Fonacier said.

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