RCBC in tight spot after lawsuit in US

:: Peoples Time Online ::

The lawsuit in US court to recoup losses from the 2016 cyber heist has left Philippines’ Rizal Commercial Banking Corp (RCBC) in a tight spot, according to the Bangladesh Bank chief.

Governor Fazle Kabir’s remarks come after RCBC filed a defamation suit in a Philippines court last week accusing the central bank of defamation by a “vicious and public attack”.

“The RCBC is in a tight spot after the Bangladesh Bank filed lawsuit in New York court,” he said on Wednesday (Mar 13) in response to a query at an event in Dhaka.

According to him, the RCBC’s lawsuit is not a setback to Bangladesh’s moves to recover the stolen money.

“I see no problem,” is what the governor says.

On the central bank team, which is now in Manila to negotiate with RCBC, Kabir said it was just a part of the lawsuit filed by Bangladesh.

“We are having talks in line with procedures of the court in New York, nothing else. An update on the talks will be available after the delegation arrives Dhaka tonight [Mar 13],” said the Bangladesh Bank chief.

Last week, RCBC filed a lawsuit in a local court accusing Bangladesh Bank of defamation for what it said as baseless claims of its complicity in the 2016 cyber heist.

The bank said its reputation had come under a sustained “vicious and public attack” by Bangladesh Bank and sought at least $1.9 million in damages.

“Bangladesh Bank has embarked on a massive ploy and scheme to extort money from plaintiff RCBC by resorting to public defamation, harassment and threats geared towards destroying RCBC’s good name, reputation, and image,” it said in a statement on Tuesday, citing the civil court filing on March 6.

It said the motive was to get RCBC to return money it neither had, nor owed.

The RCBC’s move comes weeks after Bangladesh filed a lawsuit in the US District Court in Manhattan, accusing the Filipino bank of involvement in a massive conspiracy to steal its money.

In February 2016, criminals used fraudulent orders on the SWIFT payments system to steal $81 million from the Bangladesh central bank’s account at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

The money was sent to accounts at Manila-based Rizal Commercial Banking Corp (RCBC) and then vanished into the casino industry in the Philippines.

Just $15 million of the stolen money has been recovered from a Manila junket operator, a role that involves marketing casinos to VIPs.

RCBC was fined a record $19.17 million by the Philippine central bank in August 2016 for its failure to prevent the movement of the stolen money through the bank.

A former treasurer of RCBC and five other workers at the branch where the cash was withdrawn face money laundering charges.

In January this year, a Philippines court held a former manager of a RCBC branch guilty on eight counts of money laundering, the first conviction in the cyber heist.

Peoples Time/HG

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