August 05, 2016 at 11:55 pm
Julito G. Rada
THE Monetary Board, the policy-setting body of Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, fined Rizal Commercial Banking Corp. P1 billion for its involvement in the $81-million bank heist that rocked the country’s financial system in February this year.
“Monetary Board approved the imposition of supervisory enforcement action on RCBC to pay the amount of P1.0 billion, in connection with the special examination conducted by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas relating to the Bangladesh Bank cyber heist,” the board said in a statement released late Friday afternoon.
The board said it was the “largest amount ever” approved as part of its supervisory enforcement actions on a supervised financial institution.
The $81 million was believed stolen by cyber thieves from the account of Bangladesh Bank in the Federal Reserve in New York and entered the local financial system through a branch of Rizal Commercial Banking Corp. on Jupiter Street in Makati City earlier this year.
The dirty money ended up later in local casinos and laundered by a number of individuals.
“This affirms the BSP’s strong commitment to ensure the stability of the country’s financial system through strong and effective regulation of BSFIs (Bangko Sentral supervised financial institutions),” the Monetary Board said.
The regulator said it recognized RCBC’s efforts in instituting changes to strengthen its anti-money laundering and counter-terrorist financing risk management system and governance culture.
RCBC said in a statement Friday it would comply with the Monetary Board by paying P1 billion to Bangko Sentral.
“This amount shall be paid in two equal tranches over a one-year period, P500 million upon approval by the Monetary Board and P500 million one year after,” RCBC said.
RCBC’s president and chief executive officer Gil Buenaventura said “while the payment involves a large amount, RCBC believes that this is part of increasing regulatory oversight and restrictions and we will comply with the MB Resolution.”
“With this payment, RCBC affirms its continued viability and determination to fulfill its firm commitment against money laundering, terrorism and other transnational crimes to ensure the stability of the banking system,” Buenaventura said.
He said RCBC already made provisions for the payment. Buenaventura added that “together with the payment of this amount, RCBC is instituting changes in its AML system and processes, making it among the most prepared in terms of thwarting money laundering attempts in the Philippines and the region.”
He said RCBC would move forward and continue its ongoing program to put in place more robust processes, systems and checks and balances. “As a result, we expect this newly strengthened RCBC to be even more profitable and efficient both in terms of operations and in serving its customers.”
RCBC posted a net profit of P2.6 billion in the firt half of the year. RCBC’s total capital base as of June 2016 stood at P59.9 Billion. The bank registered a net profit of P5.1 billion on a gross profit of P22 billion.