The Philippine government has reiterated again that it will help Bangladesh recover part of $81 million in funds stolen by cyber thieves from its central bank in February.
In a statement over the weekend, the Department of Finance (DOF) said Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez 3rd has assured members of a high-level delegation from Bangladesh of the government’s vigorous efforts to help recover the stolen funds, saying Manila would continue to do so by following processes required under Philippine laws.
In a meeting with a Bangladeshi delegation on Tuesday last week, Dominguez said he and other Philippine officials recommended that Bangladesh share with the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) results of their investigation of the cyber heist.
“There were certain judicial processes … that you had to go through to make sure that there would be no challenge to your taking the funds,” he informed the visiting delegation.
“We are pursuing the lawsuits on your behalf, actually, as vigorously as we can,” Dominguez said.
Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) Deputy Governor Nestor Espenilla Jr., who was also present during the meeting, requested the Bangladeshi officials to provide the BSP a full report on the inquiry into the cyber hacking incident to help speed up the recovery efforts.
It is also a way to strengthen the Philippine government’s position, on Bangladesh’s behalf, in court proceedings that aim to bring back the rest of the stolen funds, he said.
Espenilla assured the Bangladeshi officials that the Philippines has an “effective anti-money laundering system in place” and that the BSP has already advised the parties involved to “correct the deficiencies” in their respective processes.
The AMLC said besides the filing of cases against officials of Rizal Commercial Banking Corp., the council will still go after the other entities allegedly involved in the heist such as Chinese casino players and remittance firm PhilRem.
“If the Supreme Court will say that we cannot run after that bank account of Solaire, maybe we can run after the Chinese players to whom this money was eventually transferred. Of course some of that money is in PhilRem and Kim Wong,” AMLC Director Julia Abad said.
“We do not know if Philrem officials are still in the Philippines but of course, definitely we will file cases against them. There is a criminal case against them and we will also file forfeiture. We will definitely run after them in terms of properties and assets,” she added.
The Bangladeshi delegation thanked the Philippine government for helping bring back at least $15 million of the $81 million stolen funds.
Led by Anisul Huq, the minister of law, justice and parliamentary affairs of Bangladesh, the delegation expressed to Dominguez and other Filipino officials its appreciation for the legal assistance that the Philippines has provided and continues to provide to recover the stolen money.
“We have already received $15 million because of the efforts of the government and also the Senate. We’d like to express our [gratitude]and thankfulness for their efforts which has led to the recovery of the $15 million,” Huq said.
The Bangladeshi officials said progress has been made in the investigation and that it would send the government whatever updates they have on the probe.