MANILA, Philippines – Money transfer firm PhilRem Service Corporation will issue Bangladesh Bank a check of P10.47 million – the amount it profited from transactions linked to the $81 million stolen from the foreign central bank.
“We will return P10,474,654 to the Bangladeshis not just as a sign of apology, but as symbol of a Filipino company willing to find justice,” PhilRem president Salud Bautista said during the Senate blue ribbon committee hearing on Thursday, March 17.
Bautista said this is the amount PhilRem profited from the transactions linked to the Bangladesh Bank fund heist. (READ: How Bangladesh Bank dirty money easily got into PH)
“As soon as the Bangladesh Bank would confirm who the payee would be, we’ll prepare a check,” Bautista said.
During the hearing on Tuesday, March 15, Bautista claimed that Rizal Commercial Banking Corporation (RCBC) branch manager Maia Santos Deguito instructed her to convert into pesos part of what turned out to be the $81-million funds stolen by hackers from Bangladesh Bank, and to deliver it in tranches to a registered casino junket operator.
Bautista said Deguito instructed her to deliver P600 million and another $18 million in cash to a certain Weikang Xu.
AMLC cites possible violations
“We relied on the representation of the bank, that it had already undertaken face-to-face contact and customer identification requirements. The bank then assured us that these transactions were valid and that there were no irregularities,” Bautista said.
Given the assertion, Bautista said PhilRem had been assured of the validity of the transactions.
But for Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) Executive Director Julia Bacay Abad, PhilRem might have committed violations to Anti-Money Laundering Act (AMLA).
“PhilRem still has the ultimate responsibility to know its customer. There are certain requisites for 3rd-party reliance to hold. There may be basis to cite PhilRem with violations of AMLA,” Abad said at the hearing.
Bautista then apologized and said, “We have followed the laws to the best of our knowledge.”
Other than the money delivered to Xu, the rest of the $81 million stolen funds was transferred to Philippine casinos, AMLC said.
About $29 million was transferred to Bloomberry Resorts, which operates the Solaire mega-casino in Manila, and another $21 million was transferred to Eastern Hawaii Leisure, which operates a casino that caters to a mainly Chinese clientele in the sleepy northern province of Cagayan, AMLC added. – Rappler.com
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