MANILA—PhilRem Service Corp., a remittance company that converted most of the stolen USD81 million from central bank of Bangladesh into pesos, has returned Php10 million it earned from the money laundering heist that rocked the local banking industry in the Philippines.
”We are returning the Php10.4 million as token of our apology to the government of Bangladesh,” PhilRem president Salud Bautista told the Senate hearing on Thursday night.
Bautista said the Php10.4 million was the whole amount the PhilRem earned for USD 81 million that the hackers stole from the account that Bangladesh held with the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
The USD 81 million was transferred electronically to the accounts in the Philippines through the Rizal Commercial Banking Corporation (RCBC) Jupiter Branch in Makati City.
Bautista told the Senate blue ribbon committee that the USD15 million was remitted to PhilRem from RCBC account of a certain Enrico Teodoro Vasquez, one of the four individuals identified as owners of dollar accounts where the USD 81 million were transferred.
Except for USD 15 million, the remaining accounts remitted to PhilRem were consolidated into the account of businessman William So Go. Go denied that he owns the account with RCBC.
The balance of the USD 81 million has been deposited to accounts of Alfred Santos Vergara, Michael Francisco Cruz and Jessie Christopher Lagrosas. The four account were later found to be fake.
Senator Serge Osmena III described the PhilRem’s decision to return the Php10 million but claimed it does not free the remittance company from possible charges that the Anti Money Laundering Council (AMLC) may file for failure to follow a ‘know your client’ provision.
Philrem converted into pesos some of the USD 81 million and delivered the money in cash tranches to a registered casino junket operator Kam Sin Wong, Eastern Hawaii Leisure Company, and Bloomberry Hotels Incorporated (Solaire Resort & Casino).
Meanwhile, RCBC Jupiter Makati branch customer service head Romualdo Agarrado told the Senate panel that the Php20 million withdrawn from the RCBC accounts was loaded into the car of Maia Santos Deguito, RCBC Jupiter branch manager.
Agarrado said the money came from the supposed account of Go.
Deguito answered all the allegations and question in an executive session.