Posted at 03/20/16 12:59 AM
MANILA - The Philippine government's response to the stealing of $81 million from the account of the central bank of Bangladesh which ended up in the Philippine banking system shows that the country remains a responsible member of the banking community, a Palace official said.
Manuel Quezon III, Undersecretary for the Presidential Communications Development and Strategic Planning Office, said that when the money was coursed through the Rizal Commercial Banking Corp., Philippine authorities spared no time in investigating how the huge amount managed to enter the country without immediately triggering alarms.
The Anti-Money Laundering Council earlier filed an ex parte petition for the issuance of a freeze order with the Court of Appeals against RCBC bank accounts that received the $81 million remittance under the account name William S. Go.
"So definitely we are working with everyone to ensure there is transparency and para malaman ang talagang nangyari at paano ito mapre-prevent na mangyari ulit," he said.
Quezon said that there have been reports that the AMLC is even working with the Federal Bureau of Investigation of the United States.
"We should be aware that sineseryoso ito ng Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, pinapakita ng AMLC na ginagampanan nito ang kanyang trabaho. The Senate is holding hearings in aid of legislation and in fact the Bangko Sentral and the BIR have been giving their recommendations," Quezon said.
The Senate is holding a public hearing on the transaction involving money stolen from the U.S. Federal Reserve account that was allegedly wired to RCBC.
Despite the scheme, Quezon assured the public that the government will hold accountable those who are involved in the heist.
"I think you can see from... kahit sa media coverage abroad and coverage here, siyempre may mananagot na mga opisyales, lalo na doon sa bangkong apektado at ‘yun nga ang inimbestiga ngayon but on the whole, you can see that the system is working," he said.
"In other words, na-expose at inimbestigahan, nahuli at may ginagawang action pagdating sa nakaka-abalang kwento na paano ba nakuha ang pera na ito mula sa isang central bank, at pinadala sa iba’t ibang bahagi ng mundo."
Quezon noted that while the BSP wants stricter rules in the banking system, the government has yet to receive specific recommendations from the central bank on how to ease the Bank Secrecy Law.
The BSP claimed earlier that the Philippines' financial system is facing a risk because of the money stolen by hackers from the New York Fed account of Bangladesh's central bank and then transferred to Manila.
"If you look at the behavior of the financial markets over the last several days there has been no indication that there is a negative impact. But we have to recognize there is a risk," central bank's Governor Amando Tetangco said.
Tetangco said he believed it was the first case of cross-border money laundering in the Philippines and vowed to address loopholes in local laws to prevent such cases recurring.
"We will be working with the government and Congress again to further enhance and cover possible loopholes," he said.
The governor, who is also chairman of the country's Anti-Money Laundering Council, said the agency has been working with legislators to extend the ambit of the anti-money laundering law to more entities, including casinos and real estate dealers.
"This is an opportune time to take a look at this and really make a decision consistent with our desire as a sovereign nation to strengthen the anti-money laundering framework, the counter- terrorism framework in the country, so we don't become a center for money laundering," he said. - with Reuters