POST TIME: 2 April, 2016 00:00 00 AM
2-man BB team to visit Philippines next week
cyber heist probe

2-man BB team to visit 
Philippines next week

The Bangladesh Bank (BB) will send two mid-level officials to the Philippines by next week as part of the government's probe into the funds totalling USD 81 million that were stolen from the central bank’s account. BB executive director Shubhankar Saha told The Independent yesterday that two BB officials of the level of general manager (GM) would visit the Philippines within the week. “The BB officials there will act on the central bank’s behalf to see through the process of getting the money back,” he said. He, however, did not specify when the BB officials would depart for the Philippines next week. Nevertheless, the Bangladesh ambassador to the Philippines, Maj. Gen. (retd) John Gomes, told Rappler, a news agency based in the Philippines, that the BB officials are scheduled to arrive on April 3 (Sunday). He also disclosed that members of the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) of Bangladesh police are scheduled to coordinate with the Filipino 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 into how the money entered the country and who are the people involved in it," he added. The Bangladesh envoy made the statement after he witnessed the surrender of USD 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. Gomes said the CID members would head to the AMLC office on Monday and attend the fourth hearing of the Senate Blue Ribbon committee on Tuesday. He also said the team would hold discussions with the AMLC on the return of the money surrendered by Wong to the council for safekeeping at the BSP vault. "We are hopeful that the entire amount will be recovered. The return of USD 4.63 million from Wong is a step in the right direction,” he added. Gomes told Rappler that the Bangladesh  government is hopeful that Wong would also return another PHP 450 million that was part of the PHP 1-billion stash of two Chinese casino players. He said the Bangladesh government would also pursue the USD 17 million left with Philrem Services Corporation, owned by the Bautista family, as alleged by Wong. He welcomed the statement by Senate president pro tempore Ralph Recto on pursuing the recovery of about 40 per cent or USD 34 million of the USD 81-million loot. “We hope to recover the rest of the amount,” he said. 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 three casinos in that country. Meanwhile, AMLC executive director Julia Bacay-Abad told Rappler that 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 disclosed.