TIMELINE: Tracing the $81-million stolen fund from Bangladesh Bank

Chrisee Dela Paz

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TIMELINE: Tracing the $81-million stolen fund from Bangladesh Bank
(UPDATED) Here's the timeline so far of how the $81-million fund from Bangladesh Bank's account with the Federal Reserve Bank of New York was coursed through the Philippines

MANILA, Philippines (5th UPDATE) – It has been over a month since the $81-million fund from Bangladesh Bank‘s account with the the Federal Reserve Bank of New York was stolen by hackers and coursed through the Philippines.

But until now, Philippine authorities have no clear picture of the exact location of the supposed stolen money. (READ: How Bangladesh Bank dirty money easily got into PH)

Rappler traces the transactions made by unknown hackers through consolidated reports from the Anti-Money Laundering Council, Senate Blue Ribbon Committee, testimonies of key resource people, and other news reports:

May 15, 2015 – Three dollar bank accounts in the Jupiter, Makati branch of the Rizal Commercial Banking Corporation (RCBC) were opened under the names of Enrico Teodoro Vasquez, Alfred Santos Vergara, Michael Francisco Cruz and Jessie Christopher Lagrosas, with an initial deposit of $500 each. These accounts, which were later found to be fake, remained idle until February 4, 2016.

February 4, 2016 – Hackers broke into Bangladesh Bank’s account with the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, ordering 35 transfers worth $951 million, bulk of which to be transferred to RCBC Jupiter branch. 

The Federal Reserve Bank did not execute 30 of the 35 transfers due to “lack of details.” The remaining 5 transfers worth $101 million could not be blocked, but $20 million has been salvaged. This was after an instruction to a fake Sri Lankan foundation was put on hold because of a typographical mistake. (READ: Faulty printer linked to bank heist)

But the remaining $81-million stolen funds found their way to 4 fake bank accounts in RCBC.

According to the Philippine Daily Inquirer, $6 million was deposited to Cruz’s account, $19.99 million to Vergara, $25 million to Vasquez, and bulk or $30 million to Lagrosas.

Money was then consolidated and deposited in a dollar account of William So Go of DBA Centurytex Trading, which was opened on the same day.

February 5 to February 13 – From William So Go’s account, the alleged stolen funds from Bangladesh Bank were transferred to money transfer company Philrem Services Corporation

Philrem converted into pesos some of the $81 million and delivered the money in cash tranches to a registered casino junket operator named Weikang Xu, Eastern Hawaii Leisure Company, and Bloomberry Hotels Incorporated (Solaire Resort & Casino). (READ: $81-M bank heist money trail hits dead end in casinos)

February 8  Bangladesh Bank sent a “stop payment” order to RCBC. The request means the central bank was asking to refund the stolen funds or freeze the funds if these were not transferred yet.

February 8 is a Chinese New Year non-working holiday for the Philippines.

February 9 – RCBC received a SWIFT code from Bangladesh Bank requesting for a refund or putting it on hold if the funds had been transferred or freeze them for proper investigation. 

Despite the “stop payment” order, RCBC Jupiter branch still allowed withdrawals from the accounts, amounting to $58.15 million.

SWIFT or the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication is used as messaging system by banks for international transactions.


February 16 – Bangladesh Bank Governor Atiur Rahman told Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Governor Amando Tetangco Jr that SWIFT code MT103 on February 4, which ordered the inward remittance to the Philippines of $81 million, “is fraudulent.”

Rahman then asked Tetangco to help them regain the loss of $81 million from their account with the Federal Reserve Bank.

February 19 – The Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) started its investigation on involved banks and account holders.

February 23 – The real William So Go said Deguito asked him to meet her at Fort Bonifacio, Taguig, which made the businessman “suspicious.”

Go said that Deguito revealed to him that she opened fictitious dollar and peso bank accounts for Centurytex at RCBC Jupiter without his knowledge. (READ: Ex-S&R owner to sue RCBC manager over heist)

February 29 – The Philippine Daily Inquirer broke the story, citing documents shown by a representative of RCBC Jupiter branch manager Maia Santos-Deguito.

March 1 – The Court of Appeals started freezing for 6 months the accounts of Cruz, Lagrosas, Vergara, Vasquez, So Go, Centurytex Trading, Kam Sin Wong, and other related accounts. (READ: RCBC manager, others face anti-money laundering complaint)

This was in accordance with AMLC’s request to freeze 44 bank accounts for proper investigation.

March 12Deguito and her husband were aboard Philippine Airlines (PAL) Flight 432 going to Tokyo, Japan, but were offloaded due to the immigration bureau’s orders.

March 15 – The Senate Blue Ribbon Committee conducted its first hearing on the Bangladesh Bank fund heist.

The Bangladesh Bank governor resigned, while 3 of his subordinates were fired. 

March 17 – On the resumption of the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee probe, RCBC discloses that Go’s signatures in his supposed Jupiter accounts were forged. “There was a simulated forgery. The bank considers these accounts do not belong to William So Go,” said RCBC chief legal counsel Maria Celia Estavillo.

RCBC-Jupiter branch manager Deguito also disclosed that no less than the bank’s CEO and president, Lorenzo Tan, who recruited her to RCBC. (READ: RCBC bank manager: CEO Lorenzo Tan ‘invited me’ to join bank)

Four names also cropped up during the probe.

One of them is banker officer Romualdo Agarrado, who testified that Deguito knew about the “stop payment” but proceeded with releasing the money, telling him she feared for her life. (READ: RCBC branch manager: ‘I’d rather release money than get myself killed’ Rappler.com

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