MANILA Nov 29 Philippine lender RCBC
is not liable to compensate Bangladesh for tens of millions of
stolen dollars that went missing in Manila, RCBC's lawyer said
on Tuesday, pinning the blame on the central bank in Dhaka for
Unknown cyber criminals tried to steal nearly $1 billion
from the Bangladesh Bank in February, one of the biggest bank
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 Rizal Commercial Banking Corp (RCBC) in
Manila. Most of the money was laundered through casinos in
Manila and remains missing.
RCBC external counsel Thea Daep urged Bangladesh Bank 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 (Bangladesh Bank) was the one who was
negligent," Daep said in a statement, adding the local lender
will not pay Bangladesh Bank anything.
Bangladesh Ambassador John Gomes was quoted in a newspaper
as saying his government would seek compensation from RCBC.
Gomes did not respond to request for comments.
Daep said RCBC received the 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."
Only about $15 million has been recovered and returned to
Bangladesh, with a further $2.7 million frozen.
A Bangladesh delegation is in Manila to meet with Philippine
authorities and speed up the recovery of the rest of money.
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
An anti-money laundering body last week filed charges
against five officials of RCBC in connection with the heist.
($1 = 50 pesos)
(Reporting by Karen Lema; Additional reporting by Serajul
Quadir in Dhaka; Editing by Nick Macfie)