Philippines charges five RCBC officials over $81m BB theft

Business Desk | Published: 00:00, May 23,2019

 
 

Philippines Department of Justice has charged five officers of the Rizal Commercial Banking Corp (RCBC) with money laundering in connection with the cyber theft of $81 million from the central bank of Bangladesh in 2016, reports GMA News.
In a charge dated May 20, a DOJ prosecutor accused Raul Victor Tan, Ismael Reyes, Brigitte Capina, Romualdo Agarrando and Angela Ruth Torres of violating Section 4 of Republic Act No. 9160, as amended, before the Makati Regional Trial Court Branch 141, it said.
A former RCBC branch manager, Maia Deguito, was convicted of eight counts of violation of the anti-money laundering law over the same case in January.
She was sentenced to four to seven-year imprisonment for each count and ordered to pay a fine of more than $109 million.
Although Philippines prosecutors have charged a number of RCBC officials, the bank has so far refused take responsibility for the money stolen from BB reserve with New York Federal Reserve Bank.
BB in February this year filed a case in New York against RCBC to recover $66 million, out of the total theft money.
Manila returned $15 million following an order of a regional Philippine court in November 2016.
RCBC, however, filed a defamation case against BB in a Manila court in March.
In August 2016, the Philippine central bank fined RCBC a record 1 billion pesos ($19 million) for failing to stop stolen money from moving through the bank.
This time, the DOJ alleged the five RCBC officers knew that the $81 million deposited in four dollar accounts maintained in the RCBC’s Jupiter, Makati branch came from the hacking of the Bangladesh Bank’s system, and that they performed or failed to perform acts that facilitated money laundering.
The holders of the dollar accounts — ‘Michael Francisco Cruz,’ ‘Jessie Christopher Lagrosas,’ ‘Alfred Santos Vergara’, and ‘Enrico Teodoro Vasquez’ — were found to be ‘fictitious’.
The money from the multiple accounts was allegedly consolidated into a single account in the name of Filipino-Chinese businessman William Go, withdrawn, and transferred to at least three casinos.
In particular, the DOJ told the court that Tan, the bank’s treasury head and senior management and anti-money laundering committee member, ‘ordered the lifting of the ‘hold’ status’ on the four dollar accounts without escalating the matter to RCBC’s Anti-Money Laundering Committee and without directing the conduct of Enhanced Due Diligence.’
Reyes, the national sales director of RCBC’s retail banking group and OIC of its sales segment, ‘dispensed with the investigation of the suspicious transactions’ involving the four dollar accounts, the DOJ said.
Capina, the regional sales director of the RCBC’s retail banking group, allegedly ‘failed to conduct Enhanced Due Diligence required of her.’
Agarrado, for his part, allegedly ‘approved large cash withdrawals and transfers’ from the dollar accounts ‘to the bank accounts of William Go/Centurytex Trading, Philrem Services Corp and Abba Currency Exchange, which were also maintained in RCBC.’
Finally, Torres, the senior customer relations officer of the Jupiter branch, allegedly ‘processed the withdrawal’ from Go’s bank account of $20 million and it transfer to the Philrem account, and the withdrawal of an additional $13 million and its transfer to the Abba Currency Exchange account.
The DOJ filed the case after it denied the motions for reconsideration filed by the five RCBC officers last May 10 for lack of merit.
Assistant state prosecutor Mary Jane Sytat brought the case before the court with the approval of acting prosecutor general Richard Anthony Fadullon.
In a statement, RCBC said the bank is confident that the officials ‘will be vindicated since our investigation, conducted by independent third parties, concluded they had no knowledge about the alleged money laundering activity at all.’
‘We expect the complaint to be dismissed consequently,’ RCBC said.

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