DOJ OKs raps vs RCBC, Philrem over $81-M Bangladesh Bank heist

April 25, 2017 - 7:11 AM
Commuters walk in front of the Bangladesh central bank building in Dhaka. (Reuters)

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Justice approved Monday the filing of money laundering charges against officials of Rizal Commercial Banking Corporation and remittance firm Philrem Service Corporation over the $81 million stolen from the Bangladesh Bank, which was laundered in the Philippines.

The DOJ found probable cause to charge RCBC Jupiter, Makati branch manager Maia Santos-Deguito and alleged bank depositors Michael Francisco Cruz, “Jessie” Christopher M. Lagrosas, “Alfred Santos Vergara” and “Enrico Teodoro Vasquez” for eight counts of conspiring to violate the Anti-Money Laundering Law after the Bangladesh Bank funds were hacked and stolen.

It also recommended the filing of four counts of violation of the Anti-Money Laundering Law against Philrem owners Salud and Michael Bautista and Anthony C. Pelejo.

The 12-page consolidated resolution was approved by Prosecutor General Victor C. Sepulveda on the recommendation of Senior Deputy State Prosecutor Emilie Fe M. Delos Santos.

The complaint accuses Deguito of facilitating the withdrawal of the stolen money from RCBC and depositing this to the accounts of her four co-accused, described as “unknown and fictitious account holders,” and from there “to the account of a certain Mr. Go, proprietor of Centurytex.”

Investigations into the heist showed hackers apparently accessed the Bangladesh Bank’s account in the Federal Reserve Bank of New York and wired the funds to the RCBC Juliter branch, from where it was withdrawn and eventually laundered through casinos.