AFTER the United States started its own investigation on the $81 million stolen from the Bangladesh Bank because it was revealed that the cyber heist was on the Bangladesh bank account in the New York Federal Reserve, it becomes incumbent upon China to help in the recovery of the humongous amount of money and return it to Bangladesh.
Although there is no solid evidence to prove his allegation, Senate President Protempore Ralph Recto has said on Thursday last week that based on the information gathered during the Senate probe of the money theft that ended up with laundered funds in the Rizal Commercial and Banking Corporation, people in China could be the mastermind of the cyber hacking.
Recto has not categorically accused the Chinese government of complicity in the cyber hacking but pointed out the involvement of two Chinese nationals and one Filipino-Chinese big-time casino junket operator in the now celebrated, if infamous, bank robbery using the Internet.
“This has all the makings of a made-in-China problem,” Recto said, a not-so-subtle reference to the flooding of made-in-China goods all over the world.
In his testimony at the Senate probe last week, Filipino-Chinese Kim Wong identified two Chinese casino businessmen-cum-casino players—Shuhua Gao and Ding Zhize—as the conduit of the stolen Bangladeshi money that ended up at RCBC.
According to Wong, the two opened the four bank accounts at the RCBC where the stolen money was deposited 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 has since returned $4.63 million, a measly amount, to the Anti-Money Laundering Council while the bulk of the loot may still be with Gao and Zhize who have already left the country and may now be hiding in China.
Based on Recto’s calculation, some $34 million of the $81 million loot can still be recovered but this could not be achieved without Beijing’s help.
In order to show goodwill to both the Philippines and particularly to Bangladesh, Beijing should now start its own manhunt for the two Chinese fugitives (who have been summoned by the Senate) so that they can be made to explain how and who were involved in one of the biggest cyber heists in history.
China cannot just shrug off responsibility by saying that it is not involved directly in the heist unlike the New York Federal Reserve; it should consider that two of its nationals are suspected of being the brains behind the heist.
Or maybe the government of B.S. Aquino should formally seek Beijing’s cooperation in the investigation of the case, a step that we seriously doubt the government would take.
In fact, several sectors have been calling for the Aquino government to seek the cooperation of China in dismantling the vast and lucrative illegal drug syndicates that involved, again, Chinese nationals.
Recently, law enforcement authorities arrested two Chinese nationals, Miu Man Ka, 26, and Tang Yiu Cho, 39, believed to be members of Hong Kong-based illegal drugs ring.
The two, nabbed for possession of prohibited drugs worth over $7 million US dollars (180 million pesos), were the latest of several Chinese nationals arrested for drug trafficking in the Philippines. Some Chinese nationals earlier arrested, not just for illegal trading but also for manufacturing shabu, have mysteriously escaped from our prisons.
If the Beijing government has not offered to cooperate in busting the narcotics syndicates emanating from China, in the Bangladeshi bank heist with repercussions in the international banking system, it should at least signify some intentions to help.