INSTEAD of lobbying the Senate to reopen its investigation into the $81-million cyber heist, Bangladesh Bank should resume its aborted investigation that earlier hinted of an inside job, the external lawyer of Yuchengco-led Rizal Commercial Banking Corp. (RCBC) said.
“They stopped their investigation and then their ambassador here, John Gomes, started claiming it was an outside job. But their finance minister said it was an inside job,” said Thea Daep, RCBC’s external legal counsel, in a statement on Sunday.
In February, hackers supposedly stole $81 million from a Bangladesh Bank account at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York City.
The funds were then deposited in accounts opened at RCBC’s Jupiter Street branch in Makati.
Casino junket operator Kim Wong, one of the individuals supposedly involved in the heist, has returned $4.63 million and P488 million in cash to the Anti-Money Laundering Council
Daep questioned the Bangladesh central bank’s decision not to investigate and not to renew the contract of a US-based investigating company.
“Why don’t they want to know the truth? Before they ask for help from the Philippine government, it is incumbent upon them to submit a full report to the Philippine government, detailing what happened in Bangladesh,” she said.
Daep recounted the ordeal of a Bangladeshi expert who pointed to the weaknesses of Bangladesh Bank after the heist. The expert suddenly disappeared and was found days later in a daze and apparently mentally challenged, she said.
“Something is very wrong here. What is it that they do not want to know and must therefore report to the public? They just keep saying they are the victims and want to get their money back when it was their apparent negligence that started it all,” Daep said.
“Around March, the finance minister of Bangladesh told media he was sure it was an inside job, and the Bank of Bangladesh governor and two deputies resigned shortly thereafter. To us, these are clear indications of guilt and negligence,” Daep added.
She noted that Bangladesh Bank had been found using inferior and cheap server auxiliaries, and with no firewall. Its system required six bank officials to put their handprints on a plate in proper sequence before a payment order for the $81 million could go through.
The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) on Friday imposed a P1-billion fine on RCBC in connection with the bank’s involvement in the $81-million heist. This was the largest fine ever imposed by the BSP on a financial institution.