RCBC to cooperate with money laundering probe

Rizal Commercial Banking Corp., one of the country’s largest lenders, said Wednesday it will cooperate with regulators in an investigation into alleged international money laundering involving Philippine banks and casinos.

Reports said suspected Chinese hackers stole nearly $100 million from Bangladesh’s foreign exchange account managed by Federal Reserve Bank of New York and illegally transferred the stolen money online to the Philippines and Sri Lanka.  The money was reportedly transferred to Philippine banks and casinos before it was moved outside the country.

One of the banks mentioned in the reports is RCBC. “I condemn as malicious and actionable insinuations that the top management of the bank knew of and tolerated alleged money laundering activities in one branch. I will fully cooperate with all ongoing inquiries and believe that I and consequently the bank’s management will be fully vindicated,” RCBC president and chief executive Lorenzo Tan said in an e-mailed statement.

“I have been in the Philippine banking industry for 18 years rebuilding banks, instituting reforms in Philippine and Asian banking, creating products for the unbanked and providing capital to small entrepreneurs,” Tan said.

RCBC corporate vice chairman Cesar Virata said the bank was investigating the deposit of $81 million in its Jupiter branch and the subsequent transactions thereon.  Virata assured the bank was cognizant of its bank secrecy obligations and would at all times maintain confidentiality of its accounts.

“RCBC and its principal shareholders – the Yuchengco family, Cathay Life, the largest life insurance company in Taiwan, and IFC, the investment arm of the World Bank – are fully committed to comply with all banking laws and regulations, in particular those on money laundering,” the bank said.

Virata said the bank “will issue subsequent reports and statements as the investigation progresses.”

Bangladesh’s government said it was planning to sue the Federal Reserve Bank of New York after hackers allegedly stole nearly $100 million from a reserve account.

Suspected Chinese hackers stole the money from Bangladesh’s foreign exchange account on Feb. 5, according to a Dhaka central bank official and media reports.

But the US reserve bank, which manages the Bangladesh Bank reserve account, denied its systems were breached.

“We’ve heard that Federal Reserve Bank of New York has completely denied their responsibility. They don’t have any right,” Finance Minister A.M.A. Muhith told reporters in Dhaka.

“Of course, we’ll file a case against them. We have kept the money with them. They are responsible,” he said, when asked what action his government would take against the bank.

An official told AFP the stolen money was illegally transferred online to the Philippines and Sri Lanka.

Bangladesh Bank, the central bank, on Monday said it had recovered part of the money and was in contact with the Philippines’ anti-money laundering authorities to track down the rest.

On its official Twitter account, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York wrote: “Regarding hacking reports, there is no evidence of attempts to penetrate Federal Reserve systems and no evidence Fed systems were compromised.” With AFP

Topics: Rizal Commercial Banking Corp. , RCBC , money laundering , Philippine banks and casinos , Chinese hackers
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