Anger remains over Philippine bank’s alleged AML Compliance lapses in heist


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Bangladesh finance minister vents about role of RCBC in heist of $81 million

Fallout from the early-2016 heist from the Central Bank of Bangladesh continues, and last week the Finance Minister of Bangladesh told reporters that he would like to “wipe out” Rizal Commercial Banking Corporation (RCBC).

RCBC, a Philippine-based bank, remains in the spotlight because hackers who used fraudulent orders on the SWIFT network sent the Bangladesh bank’s money first to fake accounts at RCBC.

According to Reuters reporting, “RCBC has said rogue employees were responsible and Philippine prosecutors have filed money laundering charges against a former RCBC bank manager and four people who owned the bank accounts where the funds were sent, but who are not identifiable since the accounts were in fake names.”

A fascinating August 2016 report by Reuters details the claims related to alleged AML Compliance negligence on the part of RCBC. Internal emails and RCBC bank documents show that a temporary hold was placed on the incoming funds by RCBC because of doubts about the “validity of the remittances and nature of the funds,” according to an internal memo. But a business manager at the bank vouched for the validity of the transfers and the hold was quickly lifted and the money transferred.

The Philippine Central Bank fined RCBC $20 million, a record sum for an AML enforcement in that country. The central bank in Bangladesh has demanded that RCBC pay back some of the $81 million that was routed through accounts there, but RCBC has pointed to negligence on the part of the Bangladesh central bank that facilitated the initiation of the successful theft in the first place.

The stolen money was moved quickly out of the RCBC accounts and into the murky Philippine casino industry. To date, Bangladesh has recovered $15 million of the stolen funds.

According to a news report last week, Bangladesh’s central bank is considering filing a civil suit against RCBC and is encouraging the New York Fed and SWIFT to sign on to the suit.

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