Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre 2nd wants Mel Georgie Racela, the Officer-in-Charge (OIC) of the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) included in the list of nominees for the top post in the agency.
“I don’t know [who will be the candidates for the AMLC executive director]yet but one of them should be the OIC, Atty. Racela,” Aguirre told reporters and editors of The Manila Times during a roundtable on Tuesday.
Racela was designated by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) as the OIC of the AMLC Secretariat following the resignation of Julia Abad as its executive director.
Reassigned from the BSP’s Supervisory and Examination Sector where he holds the position of BSP Deputy Director for Special Projects and Reports under the Office of Supervisory Policy Development, Racela will be AMLCS OIC from February 1 to July 31, 2017.
He used to head the AML Specialist Group of the BSP. He earned his BSC in Commerce, major in accounting, from the De La Salle University and obtained his Bachelor of Laws degree from San Beda College. He obtained his Master of Laws in International Legal Studies from Georgetown University Law Center in Washington, D.C. where he was a dean’s lister.
Bangladesh Bank heist
Meanwhile, Aguirre said the anti-money laundering case against those suspected to be involved in the $81-million Bangladesh Bank heist will be resolved “anytime soon.”
“I think it will be decided soon especially now that the new Bangladesh representative had requested my office for a courtesy call,” the Justice Secretary said.
Last year, the AMLC filed criminal charges against two former and four current officials of the Rizal Commercial Banking Corp. (RCBC) before the Department of Justice over the $81-million Bangladesh Bank heist.
Accused of money laundering were former RCBC treasurer Raul Victor Tan, Ismael Reyes, national sales director under the bank’s retail banking group, Brigitte Capiña, regional sales director, Nestor Pineda, direct sales director, Romualdo Agarrado, customer service head of the RCBC Jupiter Business Center and Angela Ruth Torres, former senior customer relations officer.
The AMLC, in an affidavit submitted to the DOJ on November 18, 2016, said all three elements of money laundering were present: the existence of monetary instruments or properties derived from an unlawful activity as defined in the Anti-Money Laundering Act, knowledge that the proceeds were derived from an unlawful activity and acts of facilitation.
In early August, the central bank imposed a P1-billion fine on RCBC in connection with the Yuchengco-led bank’s involvement in the money-laundering scheme.
This was the largest fine ever imposed by the central bank on a financial institution. Days after, RCBC paid the first tranche of the P1-billion fine that was supposed to be paid in two tranches.
Casino junket operator Kim Wong, one of the individuals supposedly involved in the heist, has returned $4.63 million and P488 million in cash to the AMLC.
Aguirre will meet with the new Bangladesh representative to the Philippines next week.
The Philippine government, through the Department of Finance, has promised to help Bangladesh recover part of the $81 million stolen by cyber thieves from its central bank in February 2016.