RCBC declines to pay BB damages for $81m stolen fund

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Philippines president cancels meeting with visiting Bangladesh team Philippines’ bank RCBC, which is linked to the Bangladesh Bank reserve theft, has declined to pay any compensation to the BB as Philippine president Rodrigo Duterte cancelled a meeting with a visiting Bangladesh delegation, reporters Reuters. Rizal Commercial Banking Corp (RCBC) is not liable to compensate Bangladesh for $81 million of BB’s stolen reserve that went to Manila through RCBC, bank’s lawyer Thea Daep said on Tuesday, pinning the blame on the BB for being ‘negligent’. The lawyer’s statement came following the Philippine president’s last-minute cancellation of a meeting with a four-member Bangladesh delegation, led by law minister Anisul Haque, which went to Manila to recover the rest of $81 million. Duterte was supposed to meet Bangladesh team at 2.30pm but he had to bail out ‘due to pressing matters that demand the president’s immediate attention’, said Ernesto Abella, presidential spokesperson, according to Philippines-based Inquirer. RCBC lawyer Daep urged BB to be ‘transparent’ and produce the results of its own investigation to shed light on who was behind the heist, saying it was the least Bangladesh’s central bank could do. ‘RCBC is not the proximate cause of the theft. They have no case against us. BB was the one who was negligent,’ Daep said in a statement, adding the local lender will not pay Bangladesh Bank anything. Unknown cyber criminals tried to steal nearly $1 billion from the BB in February, one of the biggest bank frauds ever. They succeeded in transferring some $81 million via an account at the New York Federal Reserve to four accounts in fake names at a branch of RCBC in Manila. Most of the money was laundered through casinos in Manila and remains missing. Philippines could recover and hand over around $15 million of the stolen fund to BB which prompted Bangladesh to send a high-powered delegation to expedite the recovery of the rest of the amount. Bangladesh ambassador John Gomes was quoted in a newspaper as saying his government would seek compensation from RCBC. Gomes did not respond to a Reuters request for comments. He said that RCBC’s the then president Lorenzo Tan earlier said that if found liable, the bank would voluntarily compensate Bangladesh for its losses. ‘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,’ Gomes said in an interview with the Inquirer. Daep, however, said RCBC received the BB funds after they went through three layers of highly protected financial institutions. ‘Numerous reports quoting high Bangladeshi officials and the initial findings of BB’s own investigation indicated that the heist got help from BB insiders. Shortly after, BB decided to abort its investigation which raises a lot of questions, to say the least,’ Daep said. Subhankar Saha, spokesman for Bangladesh Bank, told Reuters in Dhaka ‘halt payment’ instructions were sent to RCBC both by Bangladesh Bank and the Federal Reserve Bank of New York but that RCBC did not comply. ‘The payment in cash was also abnormal,’ he said. ‘…The mechanism of transfer of money was also not transparent. So all these are questionable.’ RCBC has been fined a record one billion Philippine pesos ($20 million) by the Philippine central bank, about one fifth of its net profit last year, for its failures to prevent the Bangladesh Bank money from being transferred through accounts at the bank. An anti-money laundering body last week filed charges against five officials of RCBC in connection with the heist.
Source: New Age

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