The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) is reminding banks to follow closely their operational risk management after a case of internal fraud was recently discovered at Metropolitan Bank & Trust Co (Metrobank).
“Actually, in our interaction with the banks, there is always the reminder about managing the risk. One of them is pertaining to this one—operations risk,” newly appointed Bangko Sentral Deputy Governor for Stability and Examination Sector Chuchi Fonacier told reporters in an interview in Makati City on Tuesday.
The fraud at Metrobank involved Ma. Victoria Lopez, the bank’s vice president for Corporate Service Management, who allegedly stole possibly billions of pesos from the country’s second-largest lender.
Lopez now faces charges of qualified theft, falsification of documents, and violation of the General Banking Law.
Qualified theft is nonbailable, and the suspect is assumed to be in total control of the flow of money or transactions.
“It’s a continuing thing as to engaging the bank regarding their risk management. It’s part of the assessment of the BSP on how internal controls in the bank are being carried out, and overall risk management system. It’s a usual thing for the BSP to assess these,” she said.
The BSP is putting emphasis on rules that will shield banks against internal fraud, Fonacier noted.
“In this instance, maybe on the rotation of people or double controls,” she said.
Bangko Sentral Governor Nestor Espenilla Jr. said earlier that banks have their natural internal controls precisely to prevent such financial crimes from happening, downplaying the Metrobank incident as an “isolated” incident.
“These things happen. They are isolated. And banks are well capitalized that is why banks have controls so that these kinds of things can be mitigated and withstood,” he had said at the time.
Espenilla admitted no system is perfect but Metrobank is expected to be resilient to fraud.
“I have no concern that the bank cannot handle these things. This is a large bank. So, I mean, this is very unfortunate, but they have to deal with it,” he said.