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PHL to stay out of any settlement on bank heist case

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(Files) Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III speaks during the DuterteNomics Forum in Pasay City on April 18, 2017. -- PRESIDENTIAL COMMUNICATIONS

THE COUNTRY’S Finance chief said the Philippine government will not be involved in the out-of-court settlement proposed by Bangladesh for the $81-million bank heist in 2016, but is waiting for inputs to support the ongoing case here.

“The Finance minister and the Ambassador of Bangladesh mentioned that and my opinion is that that is between them and the private sector. It’s nothing to do with us,” Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III told reporters on Friday on the sidelines of a seminar hosted by the Philippines during the 51st Asian Development Bank meeting.

Mr. Dominguez was reacting to a Reuters report quoting a Bangladesh Bank official saying it is open to a settlement on the $81-million bank heist case with Rizal Commercial Banking Corp. (RCBC).

Mr. Dominguez said he met with the Bangladesh delegation on Thursday, wherein they were told that the government has taken action against the cyber theft.

“We’ve penalized the banks that have not followed our procedure, we have filed legal cases, the AMLC (Anti-Money Laundering Council) has filed cases against the suspects and if they want to make a legal settlement, then we are not involved in that. We are only implementing our laws here,” he said.

The Finance chief added that the AMLC is waiting for a report from Bangladesh that would support the ongoing case filed in court.




“We also mentioned to the Bangladesh that the AMLC needs evidence that a crime was committed. The crime was not committed here. The crime of hacking was not committed here. It was committed somewhere else, maybe Bangladesh, maybe in New York,” he said. “So the local courts need the evidence. So we have been asking Bangladesh for that evidence since the last quarter of 2016 and we have not gotten that evidence so according to the AMLC. They have not been able to really pursue the case vigorously.”

Unidentified hackers channeled funds stolen from Dhaka’s accounts with the Federal Reserve Bank of New York to RCBC. So far, Bangladesh Bank has been able to retrieve only about $15 million from junket operator Kim Wong.

RCBC was fined P1 billion by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas over its failure to stop the withdrawal of the money from four accounts in its Jupiter, Makati branch.

“So we are waiting for the official report from the Bangladesh side and the ambassador promised that he would provide it,” Mr. Dominguez said. — E.J.C. Tubayan