On Friday, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) slapped a P1b (US $21.3m) “supervisory enforcement action” on Rizal Commercial Banking Corporation(RCBC) for not raising enough questions when $81m in questionable funds flowed through its system to the local gaming industry.
The fine, the largest ever imposed on a Philippine financial institution, is a marked departure from the BSP’s traditional penalty of P30k per day for non-compliance matters. The fine is to be paid in two tranches of P500m, the first half to be paid immediately, while the second will follow 12 months later.
The $81m in question was stolen from Bangladeshi central bank accounts at the Federal Reserve Bank in New York by still unknown cyber-thieves in February. The funds were transferred to RCBC accounts, then transferred again through a local remittance firm to local junket operators and two local casinos: Bloomberry Resorts’ Solaire Manila and Leisure & Resorts World Corp’s Midas Hotel & Casino. To date, only about $18m of these funds has been recovered.
The fine comes as Bangladeshi central bank officials traveled to the Philippines this week to officially claim the $18m in recovered funds and to press the government to compel RCBC to make good on its offer to repay the outstanding funds if it was “found liable.”
On Friday, John Gomes, the Bangladeshi ambassador to the Philippines, announced that the country’s new President Rodrigo Duterte had assured him that the outstanding funds would be returned. Gomes said his team was “very hopeful” that it would eventually recover the full $81m because “I got a commitment from the president himself.”