PH authorities say some BB money could be recovered

The Philippines anti-money laundering authorities on Monday said they would get back ‘at least some portion’ of $81-million stolen money of Bangladesh Bank while they were preparing charges against a number of suspects in the illegal transfer.
Philippines Securities and Exchange Commission chairperson Teresita Herbosa, who is also a member of the country’s Anti Money Laundering Council, said the authorities would be able to get back at least some of the money illegally taken from the account of the BB and funnelled into various accounts at local banks and casinos in Manila, reports ABS-CBN News.
‘I’m sure somehow, some of it will be recovered,’ she said.
Herbosa was tight-lipped about the investigation into the alleged laundering, saying she didn’t want to pre-empt the Senate hearings on the issue scheduled for today.
AMLC chairman Amando Tetangco, who is also the governor of the Philippines’ central bank, said that they were preparing charges against a number of people involved in the illegal transactions, reports The Wall Street Journal.
He refused to identify those who might be charged but said more details would be revealed during Senate hearings. Tetangco is scheduled to testify before the Senate committee that monitors the operation of the anti-money-laundering law.
Senator Serge Osmena said on Monday that the Senate had started tracing where the $81 million from the accounts of the Bangladesh central bank went after the money slipped through the Philippines financial system, reports the Inquirer, Philippines daily.
Osmena, chair of the Senate committee on banks, financial institutions and currencies, said the Senate would also trace the four depositors who opened the US dollar bank accounts at the Rizal Commercial Banking Corp branch on Jupiter Street in Makati City in May 2015 with an initial deposit of $500.
The accounts, reportedly under the names of Enrico Teodoro Vasquez, Alfred Santos Vergara, Michael Francisco Cruz and Jessie Christopher Lagrosas, were untouched until February 4, 2016, when $81 million were transferred to them.
The dollars were reportedly converted into the pesos by a remittance company called Philrem and then transmitted them in various tranches to the bank accounts of Chinese national Weikang Xu, Eastern Hawaii Leisure Co and Bloomberry Hotels Inc (Solaire Resorts).
Asked if the funds were already remitted elsewhere, Osmeña said, ‘That’s correct, we’re tracing it. We have no idea where the money went as of this time,’ the senator added.
A branch manager of the Rizal Commercial Banking Corporation on Monday insisted that RCBC president and CEO Lorenzo Tan knew about the illegal transaction involving his ‘friend.’
In an exclusive interview with ABS-CBN News, RCBC Jupiter branch manager Maia Santos Deguito said Tan was friends with an alias Kim Wong who owns one of six bank accounts allegedly used in moving millions of dollars stolen by unknown hackers from the BB and laundered in casinos in Parañaque City.
Philippine immigration authorities Friday stopped Deguito,  who, according to the bank’s memo cited in the Inquirer, allegedly
facilitated the opening of the foreign-currency accounts that initially received the money — from leaving the country.
Deguito said Kim Wong referred to her four persons who opened on May 2015 the other bank accounts linked to the scam — Cruz, Lagrosas, Vergara and Vasquez.
‘I met the five individuals in Solaire hotel. These five individuals were referred to me in Solaire,’ she said adding that they had forms for account opening together with all the supporting documents.
Asked why she agreed to meet these men at Solaire and not at their bank, she said: ‘Kim Wong is a known close friend of the president [Lorenzo Tan] of the bank.’
Suspected hackers transferred $101 million from BB account with the Federal Reserve Bank of New York in early February using an interbank messaging system known as SWIFT. Around $20 million were transferred to Sri Lanka, which were recovered, while the rest were transferred to the Philippines.
There are growing suspicions among local and foreign experts that officials in Bangladesh were also involved in the money theft.

source : the new age

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