RCBC chief offers to go on leave

Chrisee Dela Paz
RCBC chief offers to go on leave
This is 'to give the bank a free hand' in probing money laundering allegations involving a Makati branch and its branch manager, says the lawyer of RCBC president and CEO Lorenzo Tan

MANILA, Philippines –  Rizal Commercial Banking Corporation (RCBC) president and CEO Lorenzo Tan has offered to go on leave following his bank’s involvement in the $100-million bank heist in downtown Manhattan that targetted funds of Bangladesh Bank.

Tan’s legal counsel said on Friday, March 11, that the RCBC executive has not offered to resign, contrary to the late Thursday report of ANC Business Nightly.

“Mr  Lorenzo Tan has not offered to resign from the back. He has offered to go on leave to give the bank a free hand in investigating the alleged money laundering issue involving its Jupiter branch in Makati and its branch manager,” lawyer Francis Lim said in a statement. (READ: RCBC, 3 casinos linked to Bangladesh Bank fund heist)

“The bank’s board thanked him for his gentlemanly and decent gesture but said their trust in him is intact and unshaken,” Lim added.

Senate probe

Senator Teofisto Guingona III said in a media advisory that the Senate blue ribbon committee will hold a public hearing on the money laundering incident on March 15.

Tan and other RCBC officials, including Jupiter branch manager Maia Santos-Deguito, are among the 21 resources persons invited to the hearing.

The others are members of the Anti-Money Laundering Council headed by Bangko Sentral Governor Amando Tetangco Jr; Cristino Naguiat Jr, Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation chairman; and executives from other banks including Philippine National Bank president Reynaldo Maclang.

Also invited were Thomas Arasi, president and COO of Solaire Resort and Casino Manila; Reynaldo P. Bantug, chairman, president, and CEO, Leisure and Resorts World Corporation/Midas Hotel and Casino; and Clarence Chung, chairman and president, Melco Crown Philippines/City of Dreams Casino.

The alleged account holders, including Filipino-Chinese businessman William Go, were also tapped as resource persons for the hearing, as well as the president of remittance company Philrem Service Corporation. (READ: Ex-S&R owner to sue RCBC manager over heist)

On Wednesday, RCBC said that a bulk of the laundered money from the Manhattan bank heist was deposited in its Jupiter branch in Makati City.

The confirmation came after the Philippine Daily Inquirer (PDI) reported that the “$81 million – suspected to have come from the same source – managed to enter the local banking system and was released to local clients of RCBC,”  and that top bank officials knew about the transaction.

Other than RCBC, AMLC, PAGCOR, and the National Bureau of Investigation have started their own investigation on the biggest money-laundering case recorded in Philippine history.

Investigators said the stolen money was illegally transferred online to the Philippines and Sri Lanka. The Bangladesh central bank earlier said it had recovered part of the money and was in contact with Philippines anti-money laundering authorities to track down the rest. Rappler.com

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