Philippine Bank Fires Back At Bank of Bangladesh

A building with the logo of the Rizal Commercial Banking Corporation (RCBC). (Photo: Business World)

The Rizal Commercial Banking Corporation (RCBC) has recently filed a defamation case against the Bank of Bangladesh. RCBC cites what it deems as "baseless allegations" regarding the claim Bank of Bangladesh that some of the former's officials were involved in a cyberheist back in 2016 which took $81 million. According to court documents, the complaint was officially filed on March 6, 2019, on a Makati City trial court in the Philippines.

Part of RCBC's complaint reads, "It is public knowledge that Bangladesh Bank has embarked on a massive ploy and scheme to extort money from plaintiff RCBC by resorting to public defamation, harassment and threats geared towards destroying RCBC's good name, reputation and image, all with the intention of getting RCBC to pay Bangladesh Bank money that RCBC does not have in its custody or possession and which it does not owe to Bangladesh Bank."

The court documents revealed that the lawsuit was served to Abu Hena Mohammad Razze Hasan who works as the deputy governor and head of Bangladesh Bank Financial Intelligence Unit. A number of members of the Bangladesh Bank delegation that arrived recently in the Philippines were also served with the suit.

In February, the Central Bank of Bangladesh filed a lawsuit in a New York court. The plaintiff was RCBC. The Central Bank of Bangladesh is seeking for damages, as well as the return of the stolen $81 million.

In connection with the cyberheist and the subsequent backlash, the Monetary Board of the Central Bank of the Philippines levied a massive one billion Philippine Peso fine against RCBC.

According to RCBC's lead legal counsel Tai-Heng Cheng, the claims of Bank of Bangladesh are completely baseless. He added that RCBC had no connection with the cyberheist.

In February 2016, unknown hackers stole $81 million from the Bangladesh Bank's central account in the United States Federal Reserved. The money was then transferred to the RCBC Jupiter Branch in the Philippines from which the money was quickly withdrawn and then laundered through various casinos.

Two years after, investigators are still in the dark as to who are the perpetrators of the massive heist. As of this writing, the Bank of Bangladesh has only successfully recovered about $15 million. Majority of this recovery from Manila junket operator known only as Kam Sin Wong.

In January, a Philippine court issued its first conviction related to the cyberheist. RCBC bank branch manager Maia Deguito was found guilder on eight counts of money laundering. She was sentenced to serve between 32 to 56 years in jail.

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