WHILE some Filipinos were involved in laundering $81 million stolen from the Bangladesh Bank, the money heist did not originate from the Philippines but from another country, Senate President Pro-Tempore Ralph Recto said on Thursday.
There are indications, according to Recto, that the money heist may have been hatched in China based on information obtained by the Senate blue ribbon committee.
Kim Wong told the committee that he got a tip that a huge amount of cash will be transferred to the Philippines from two Chinese businessmen — Shuhua Gao and Ding Zhize.
Wong said the two moved the money to the Rizal Commercial Banking Corp. (RCBC).
“To a great extent, naloko rin tayo. Una, may natulog sa pansitan [We were duped. First, somebody slept on his job at] Bangladesh Central Bank. Yung computers nila napasukan ng virus o malware. Sabi pa nga sa mga ulat, inside job. May kakutsaba sa loob. [Their computers were infected with virus or malware. There were also reports that it was an inside job],” Recto said.
He added that the New York Federal Reserve can also be faulted for allowing the wire transfer.
“How come it was able to pass though their verification process?” Recto noted.
The senator said he has reason to believe that the masterminds of the cyber heist are from mainland China.
“This has all the makings of a made-in-China problem,” Recto added.
In fact, he said, it is only the Philippines that is helping Bangladesh in solving the case, adding that instead of launching a high-profile investigation, the New York Federal Reserve is even trying to wash its hands off the controversy.
“The early frantic calls of the Bangladesh Central Bank head were not even answered by New York,” Recto also noted.
If the heist was a conventional bank robbery, he said, “the robbers are not Filipinos, the accomplices are not Filipinos, the guards are not Filipinos, [the driver of a]get-away car is also not a Filipino.”
“However, the [get-away] vehicle was parked inside a garage of a Filipino,” Recto added.
Wong, in his testimony at the Senate on Tuesday, said Gao and Ding opened four bank accounts where the stolen money landed with the help of dismissed RCBC Jupiter Branch manager Maia Santos- Deguito and remittance firm PhilRem.
Wong admitted that he got P1 billion from the $81 million laundered funds that entered the country in February through his company, Eastern Hawaii Leisure Co. Ltd.
He, however, maintained that he did not know that it was part of the stolen fund.
Eastern Hawaii is a company that operates a hotel-casino at the Cagayan Special Economic Zone in Cagayan province in Northern Luzon.