Gov’t keeps hands off legal fight between RCBC, Dhaka on heist

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THE PHILIPPINE government maintained its stance to keep its hands off any developments on Dhaka filing charges against Rizal Commercial Banking Corp. (RCBC) next week over the $81-million bank heist in 2016.

“Our position is unchanged,” Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III told reporters in a mobile phone message on Monday.

This comes after a Bangladesh daily reported that Dhaka will file charges against RCBC and the Federal Reserve Bank of New York on Jan. 15 over their role in the $81-million Bangladesh Bank heist.

Mr. Dominguez met with Bangladesh Finance Minister Abul Maal Abdul Muhith in Manila in May last year, where he said the Philippine government will have no hand in any out-of-court settlement or developments in court regarding the charges against RCBC as it has already imposed the necessary sanctions on the bank.

Hackers stole $81 million from Bangladesh Bank in February 2016 using fraudulent orders on the SWIFT payments system, which were eventually wired to RCBC accounts.

Manila has returned $15 million so far, but the remaining $66 million is still unaccounted for after the money trail went cold in local casinos.

The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas slapped a P1-billion fine on RCBC, which was the largest penalty ever imposed by the central bank on a lender.

Local authorities have also filed money laundering charges against an RCBC branch manager involved in the heist. — E.J.C. Tubayan