Metrobank shares fall on reported fraud

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THE value of shares in the Philippines’ second-largest bank fell Friday after it was hit by fraud, which reports said may amount to nearly $50 million.

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The Philippine Daily Inquirer quoted unnamed bank officials as saying one of Metropolitan Bank and Trust Co.’s vice presidents has been arrested for diverting between 900 million and 2.5 billion pesos (between $7.7 and 49.3 million) in bank funds.

The bank, better known as Metrobank, said no customer had been affected in the incident.

“Upon our own discovery, the bank immediately caused the arrest of the individual involved in this case, who has been detained by the authorities since Monday,” the listed lender said in a written statement.

“In the context of the bank’s 1.9 trillion-peso financial resources, rest assured that we continue to operate business as usual for the bank and our customers,” it added.

Metrobank did not comment on how much money had been lost in the fraud, saying it could not offer further detail as charges have been filed against the suspect.

The detained suspect had funnelled loans into fictitious accounts created in the name of a legitimate client, the newspaper report said, adding that an internal investigation was trying to determine if other people were involved.

The funds were then funnelled electronically to other accounts, eventually ending up in the suspect’s pocket, the report added.

Metrobank shares ended 4.86 percent down to 87.05 pesos in morning trade Friday, with its shares accounting for a lion’s share of traded volume.

The lender’s parent firm GT Capital Holdings was also hit, ending down 3.09 percent in morning trade to 1,192.00 pesos.

In June, a computer virus forced the Bank of the Philippine Islands (BPI) to shut down its online access and cash machines for two consecutive days.

The bug drained some accounts and added money to others.

In 2016, unidentified hackers stole $81 million from a US account of the Bangladesh central bank, funnelling the stolen funds into a Philippine bank and Manila-based casinos.

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