Tuesday, August 20, 2019

RCBC libel suit ‘part of strategy to waste time’, Bangladesh Bank says

  • Chief Economics Correspondent, bdnews24.com
    Published: 2019-03-13 00:26:16 BdST

Bangladesh Bank sees the defamation lawsuit filed by a Manila-based bank against it as “part of a strategy to waste time”.

Rizal Commercial Banking Corp or RCBC filed the suit at a local court in the Philippines on Mar 6 over what it says are baseless claims of its complicity in the 2016 cyber heist of Bangladesh’s foreign exchange reserves.

Bangladesh Bank filed a lawsuit in the US District Court in Manhattan earlier this year, accusing RCBC of involvement in a massive conspiracy to steal its money.

“We are not worried about their (RCBC’s) lawsuit. We will continue all our efforts to recover our money,” Bangladesh Bank spokesman Serajul Islam told bdnews24.com on Tuesday.  

Pressure from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, the Philippines government, and different other quarters to return the stolen money has “angered” RCBC, Serajul said.

“They have filed the lawsuit against us out of anger following the pressure and in a bid to waste time,” he added. 

RCBC was fined a record 1 billion pesos ($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A former treasurer of RCBC and five other workers at the branch where the cash was withdrawn face money laundering charges.

On Jan 11 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.

Just $15 million of the stolen money has been recovered from a Manila junket operator, a role that involves marketing casinos to VIPs.
Bangladesh has been asking that the RCBC give back the stolen funds, but the bank has not yet showed any sign of compromise.

“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,” the RCBC said in a statement on Tuesday, citing the civil court filing.