Bangladesh authorities head to PH to probe heist
Bangladesh authorities head to PH to probe heist

Alecs Ongcal

Bangladesh Ambassador to the Philippines John Gomes hopes to recover the rest of the $81 million stolen from the country's central bank

MANILA, Philippines – Bangladeshi authorities will arrive in the Philippines in the coming days as part of their government’s probe into the $81 million stolen from the Bangladesh central bank’s account. (READ: Kim Wong returns $4.63M to AMLC)

Bangladesh Ambassador to the Philippines John Gomes said members of the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) are due to coordinate with Philippine authorities on the money-laundering case.

“Officials of the CID will coordinate with the BSP [Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas]. They will start their own investigation on how the money entered the country and who are the people involved,” Gomes said.

The Bangladesh envoy made the statement after he witnessed the turnover of $4.63 million by casino junket agent Kam Sin “Kim” Wong to the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) office at the BSP headquarters in Manila on Thursday, March 31.

Gomes added that officials of Bangladesh Bank are also scheduled to arrive on Sunday, April 3.

He said the CID members will head to the AMLC office on Monday and attend the fourth hearing of the Senate Blue Ribbon committee on Tuesday, April 5.

Gomes said the team will discuss with the AMLC the return of the money surrendered by Wong to the council for safe keeping at the BSP vault. (READ: Italy cracks down on Philippine remittance agencies)

“We are hopeful that the entire amount will be recovered. The return of $4.63 million from Wong is a step in the right direction,” Gomes said.

Recovery of stolen money

Gomes said the Bangladesh government is hopeful that Wong would also return another P450 million that was part of the P1-billion stash of two Chinese casino players

Gomes said the Bangladesh government would also pursue the $17 million left with PhilRem Services Corporation owned by the Bautista family as alleged by Wong.

He welcomed the statement made by Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto on pursuing the recovery of about 40% or $34 million of the $81-million loot.

“We hope to recover the rest of the amount,” Gomes said. (READ: Network: Who’s who in the RCBC money-laundering scam)

Gomes thanked the Senate, the AMLC, and the BSP for their help in recovering the money stolen by Chinese hackers from the account of the Bangladesh Bank at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York in February. The money entered the country via the Rizal Commercial Banking Corporation (RCBC) and ended up in 3 casinos in the country.

Help from China

For her part, AMLC executive director Julia Bacay-Abad said the AMLC is seeking the help of the Chinese embassy in locating Gao Shu Hua and Ding Zhi Ze who were identified by Wong as the perpetuators of the bank heist.

“We are coordinating with them,” she said.

Abad said the money-laundering case filed by AMLC against Wong and Weikang Xu before the Department of Justice stands. (READ: 4 new names emerge at Senate probe into Bangladesh Bank heist)

In the case of Wong, she said, “the return of the money will not result to the dropping of the charges.”

AMLC has also filed a similar case against RCBC Jupiter branch manager Maia Santos-Deguito and the 4 account holders before the justice department.

On Thursday, Wong’s lawyer Inocencio Ferrer rode an armored Lexus vehicle to turn over the amount contained in a traveling trolley bag. It had 46 bundles of 100 pieces of $100 and $30,000 in smaller US bills.

The amount was counted and validated inside the AMLC office for two and a half hours. An armored truck transported it to the BSP where it was placed in a vault inside the central bank complex. –

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