Yuchengco-led Rizal Commercial Banking Corp. (RCBC) has threatened to bring Bangladesh Central Bank officials to court for allegedly maligning the local bank and using it as the “scapegoat” in the $81-million cyberheist that happened in early 2016.
In a statement yesterday, RCBC said it was mulling legal action against Dhaka officials.
“RCBC has had it and will consider a lawsuit against Bangladesh Central Bank (BB) officials for claiming the bank had a hand in the $81-M cyberheist two years ago,” RCBC said.
“We will not allow them to continue to malign RCBC. Various reports, including their own, indicate an inside job. BB and Dhaka officials refuse to release their findings to hide from the Bangladeshi public what could very well be the involvement of its own officials who may have helped loot their money deposited with the New York Federal Reserve,” the bank said.
RCBC accused BB of perpetuating the cover-up and using the Philippine bank as a scapegoat “to keep their people in the dark.”
The statement was issued by RCBC on the heels of reports that BB would file a lawsuit in New York against the local bank in relation to the $81-million cyberheist.
Wire agency AFP reported that Bangladesh Finance Minister A.M.A. Muhit had told reporters in Dhaka that “it will be (filed in New York). Fed may be a party.”
AFP also quoted deputy central bank governor Razee Hassan as saying that the case would be filed in April.
“If they sue, RCBC is ready and prepared. The first thing we will ask is for BB and Dhaka to submit to court their findings. If they refuse, they will suffer from comparison since RCBC willingly shared information to the extent allowed by law. And why sue RCBC when they should be suing instead their own, the criminal elements from within?” RCBC said.
“Again, why is BB not going against those who have been identified as having possession of the remaining money? There is none left in RCBC,” the bank added.
RCBC said it was time for BB and Dhaka to “come clean and give its people answers.”
In 2016, $81 million in dirty money stolen by hackers from BB slipped into RCBC’s branch on Jupiter St. in Makati City, quickly withdrawn and eventually laundered through in local casinos.
The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas slapped the bank with a P1-billion fine. RCBC has since then strengthened internal controls and revamped its senior management team.
The $81-million money laundering issue, which RCBC claimed to be the handiwork of a “rouge” branch on Jupiter Street, Makati then led by its manager, Maia Deguito, thrust the Philippines into the global spotlight in 2016 as this was said to be the world’s biggest cyberhacking incident.
Casino junket operator Kim Wong had identified two Chinese—junket agent Shuhua Gao and Ding Zhize, a businessman from Macau—as those who had allegedly brought the $81 million to the country and arranged the opening of the bank accounts at RCBC Jupiter.These people have yet to be found and charged.
After several sessions of the Senate’s public hearing on the matter, about $17 million of the money stolen from Bangladesh remained unaccounted for. Wong had said the remaining money was with Philrem, the remittance firm used for the transactions, but Philrem denied this.
Bank accounts were opened at RCBC’s Jupiter branch under fictitious names on May 12, 2015, each funded with only $500. They were untouched until Feb. 5, 2016 when $81 million was wired from Bangladesh to the bank accounts.
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