MANILA, Philippines – The Philippines’ Department of Justice (DOJ) assured the government of Bangladesh that it is working to help claim $15 million out of $81 million in foreign reserves that were stolen from the Bangladesh central bank and laundered in the Philippines.
Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II met with Bangladeshi officials – led by Ambassador to the Philippines John Gomes – to reassure them and discuss the pending money laundering cases with the Department of Justice.
The respondents in the cases are Maia Santos Deguito, the former manager of the Rizal Commercial Banking Corporation (RCBC) Jupiter branch in Makati City; businessman Kim Wong; and executives of the PhilRem Service Corporation remittance firm.
Gomes told reporters following a closed-door meeting, “This case involving about $15 million is pending, but I think within one month they should be resolving that case and we will be getting back our money.”
The Philippines’ Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) has accounted for about $60 million of $81 million in laundered money. The amount includes $15 million turned over by casino operator Kim Wong, $28 million with the Solaire Resort & Casino group, and $17 million allegedly with PhilRem.
The Regional Trial Court Branch 53 of Manila ordered last July 7, that $15 million cash turned over by Wong be forfeited. Gomes said that Aguirre, like other officials they met, committed to resolving the case “very soon.”
Speaking to reporters, Aguirre said: “The government will help in returning the money to Bangladesh. The DOJ will appear for Bangladesh before AMLC in its efforts to recover the money.” (TIMELINE: Tracing the $81-million stolen fund from Bangladesh Bank)
Ambassador Gomes also said executive officials “have all given me their commitment that they will do everything that is required to recover the money.”
“They are very cooperative with us and I am quite pleased that this (case) is going to be resolved very quickly…. I am very optimistic, I am actually very much pleased whenever I meet the new officials the way they are coming forward to help us get our money back,” Gomes added.
Gomes was accompanied by their lawyer AJ Hussein during the meeting with Aguirre.
The Bangladesh contingent also said they were planning to meet with Solicitor General Jose Calida, as well as officials of the AMLC and Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP). The meet would be to further push for their claim.
The group earlier met with senators and top executives of the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (Pagcor) in a bid to get back part of the $81 million.
“We are meeting the different officials and see what is the position over here in the Philippines and then only we can decide what will be the next step for the remaining amount of the money,” Gomes went on to say. – Rappler.com