Thursday, May 26

Philippine senator sees very low chance of recovery of $81m stolen from BB



There is a very low chance that the government will be able to retrieve the $81 million stolen from the Bangladesh central bank because the money is now likely outside the country, Senator Sergio Osmeña III said Wednesday.

Still, Osmeña said tracking the money from Bangladesh Bank would depend on the cooperation of casinos at the resumption today of the Senate inquiry into the money-laundering scheme.

The stolen money found its way into casinos after being withdrawn from a branch of Rizal Commercial Banking Corporation (RCBC) in Makati City.

Senator Teofisto Guingona III, chair of the Senate blue ribbon committee, said it would be very difficult to retrieve the money “given that it has entered the blackhole.”

At the resumption of its hearing today, the Senate blue ribbon committee is expected to focus on casinos in finding out what happened to the stolen money. Osmeña told reporters in his office in Makati City that the chance of retrieving the money was very low.

We will try to get more information from the casinos. We have not questioned the president of Solaire because he was out of the country and the corporate counsel he sent does not know the details of the transactions, he said.

The senator said he wanted to find out from the casinos “where the money went” and for them to show their records that they “received the amounts and to whom these amounts were credited.”

The Senate committee is looking for the “electronic trail” of the money from the casinos, according to Osmeña. I hope (the casinos can provide the electronic trail). We don’t know how they will defend themselves but the law is full of holes. They can get away with it, he said.

Asked whether there were laws that the casinos could invoke to allow them not to talk, Osmeña said the country’s laws “protect more the criminals than the government,” citing as example the bank secrecy law that was invoked repeatedly by RCBC officials at the hearing on Tuesday.