Our unrecognized national scandal

15

THE money-laundering scandal that saw $81 million in stolen funds disappear after passing through accounts at RCBC bank has gripped the local media for the past several days. In addition to daily news reporters, nearly all of our columnists here at The Manila Times (and in most of the other newspapers in town) have expounded at length on the topic, and we would assume, knowing columnists, probably have a great deal more to say about it.

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Despite the volume of written news and opinion the scandal has produced so far, we have the impression that no one – especially not our public officials, but also including us in the media and the public at large – has a proper understanding of just how damaging the affair is to the Philippines.

The theft of $100 million from the account of Bangladesh Bank at the Federal Reserve of New York is the single largest bank robbery in history, and the second- or third-largest robbery of any kind, surpassed only by the theft of nearly $1 billion by Russian-based hackers in April last year – that robbery involved dozens of banks – and the $300 million Hatton Garden diamond heist in London, which was ultimately unsuccessful, that occurred the same month. Even though investigators are still trying to connect the dots, the Bangladesh heist evidently involved a widespread conspiracy operating in three or more countries, with the Philippines playing the most significant role as the place the money, all but $19 million of it intercepted by Sri Lankan authorities, was last seen.

Our government is facing two immediate and very critical challenges. First is to solve the crime, at least that part of it involving the apparent ease with which the conspiracy was able to launder the money through our country. The second, and more important in the long run, is to take whatever action is necessary to demonstrate that we have a proactive system of laws and oversight to prevent this sort of scandal from happening in the first place – or rather, prevent it from happening again, since it is obvious that our existing systems were helpless against criminals who were carrying out an operation that simply required more determination than imagination, as laundering money through casinos is, as we have heard it described, the most basic form of money laundering there is.

This is not the time for the Aquino Administration to dispatch its spokespeople to flippantly dismiss the matter by claiming, “the systems are basically working,” only because the relevant authorities are now aware the crime occurred. And this is also not the time for the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC), personified by its chairman, Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Governor Amando Tetangco, Jr., to largely disappear from public view. Forthright and honest explanations of what went wrong to allow the scandal to happen here, and what needs to be done to improve the country’s defenses against illicit financial transactions are needed not only by the public, but more importantly, by the business and investment community, and the financial authorities in other countries, if the Philippines has any wish to restore its battered reputation and blunt the now very real risks of being declared a financial pariah.

Not acting quickly, transparently, and effectively puts our country’s credit standing and the financial well being of millions of OFWs and their families at grave risk, and as a consequence, threatens the entire economy that Governor Tetangco and his colleagues, as well as the country’s banking sector, have worked very hard to support, with good results so far. There is still time to do so, but the sand in that particular hourglass has almost run out.

With the turmoil a change in Administration will bring even under the best of circumstances, the last thing our country needs is to be regarded with even greater suspicion by the outside world.

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15 Comments

  1. Josemakabayan on

    Ano dapat natin asahan sa mga spokespeople ng pangulo, andyan sila para spinners o tagabola ng pangulo.
    Sori lang tayo kung padadala tayo sa kanilang pamBOBOla.

  2. When I started to understand the spoken and written words (about 6 years old) CORRUPTION was the number one problem in the Philippines. I am now 76 years old and the number one problem in the Philippines is still CORRUPTION.. We are just plain and simple CORRUPT people and another 76 years is not going to change that.

  3. ALMC was too busy allowing itself to be used for political persecution. Spending less time for what is really important, INTEGRITY OF THE WHOLE BANKING SYSTEM ENSURING THAT NO ILLEGAL TRANSACTIONS PASS THRU THE SYSTEM ESPECIALLY FROM CRIMINALS AND TERRORIST.

  4. I agree with braincleaner, the manager was doing what was verbally told her, but to cover her back she should have put it in writing & asked her senios who instructed her to do these things to also put it in writing. But we all know they wouldnt do that as they know there is a crime to be committed & that by asking for it in writing she will ruin her career. How that problem can be solved is a little more complicated.

  5. Edong Mapangarap on

    Perhaps the public should focus on another bigger scandal in Telecomms monopolies,

    WHY DID AUSTRALIA’s TELSTRA PULLED OUT OF THE DEAL?

    WHY IS ‘ANG BIG BOSS’ HIMSELF ANNOUNCED THE PULLOUT?

    WHAT IS ‘FREQUENCY MONOPOLY’?

    Telstra could have solved all are woes in Telecomms, big business investment are waiting for this light at the end of the tunnel, cell phone owners and internet users will finally experience ‘digital age’ , BUT NO! WHO ARE THIS FAMILY OF OLIGARCHS that are nailing our people to the cross? who owns our current Turtle speed telecoms THAT ARE PREVENTING TRUE PROGRESS? WHO are this Goliaths choking us millions of Davids? Telstra WILL NOT PULL OUT UNLESS THEY SEE UNFAIR PRACTICES. I hope this medium will expose the true score…….please?

    WHO ARE THEY? YOUR GUESS IS AS GOOD AS MINE!

  6. armando flores on

    Stealing foreign funds especially from the U.S. should be encouraged. Their proceeds are additional income to the country. It is a way of getting back to RP what it lost during the US-Japanese war when the americans took tons of philippine gold to fort knox which until now no RP president dare the U.S. government to return those billions worth of gold they stole from the philippines, Congrats to the group responsible for this $81 million case that benefited the country.

    • what an idiot, i hope some scam artist scams you then lets see if you give him the same reverance.

    • You are out of your mind. You are encouraging others to steal? Siguro magnanakaw ka. Ang mga magnanakaw ay walang lugar sa mundo.

  7. The AMLA failed to do its duty being politicized as it is . The executive Director being a part of a political dynasty, nepotism beneficiary and a Liberal Party member too !

    The Monetary Board should sanction PhilRem and RCBC, but the AMLA must be reshuffled immediately, there are still many honest Bankers, believe it or not !

    I just wish that the hackers are not natural-born Pilipinos or those who reaquired their citizenship here or dual-citizens.

  8. Commin sense dictates that Ms. Deguito was used by much bigger players in this horendous crime. That William Go and top officers of RCBC must be included in this crucial investigation to ferret out the truth. Philrem president/owner/operator must be thoroughly investigated she being at the center of how was the money were laundered.

  9. arturo b. odejar on

    This being considered as a high crime like drugs…. gov’t should take action ASAP to make sure people will not loose their respect on this Administration (Noynoy)…

  10. Hacking of banks occurs a lot, but, its unheard of to have a bank insider who could do such a Yeoman job like RCBC branch manager Ms. Deguito.

    1. She opened 5 fictitious accounts way back 2015

    2. she defied stop order from main office,

    3. She actively disbursed illicit funds

    4. She personally instructed Philrem to convert dollars to pesos and deliver to criminals!

    That’s why most hackers end up failing (no money cashed).

    This case in the Philippines is one of its kind.

    Now she’ll lie and name names to save her own skin.

    • Braincleaner on

      Winchester, you must be a spokesman of the masterminds representing the Board of the RCBC who are desperate in diverting culpability by demolishing a fall guy in the person of the poor Branch Manager who was just instructed by top executives to do her job. You may be able to buy Malacanang, AMLC, DOJ, the Senate, and the tri-media. But you can’t fool the Filipino people that $81M can be withdrawn by a bunch of lowly employees in your bank without the instructions and clearance from your senior executhieves.

    • You failed to mention that the robbery-hacking, the convertion from dollars to pesos, transmitting the funds different robbers and robbers withdrawal of the monies from the casinos was done IN ONLY LESS THAn A DAY. How can AMLAC prevent this from happening ? This was a well planned robbery , timing perfect, personnel faithfully followed the plan and all parties were properly compensated. The perpetrators knew the process.

    • Maria Baylon on

      Yeah right. There maybe other big names in this mess, but as Sen. Enrile rightfully said ” Deguito started it all”. The poor manager forgot or doesn’t know PRUDENCE..all for the love of money.