PHL gov't urged to trace culprits behind $81-M cyber heist

THE Philippine government should have the initiative to help the Bangladesh government hunt down the perpetrators behind the $81-million cyber heist, Senate Minority Leader Juan Ponce Enrile said Tuesday.

"Who are the hackers and who are their agents that brought out the money? Are we going to investigate that? Are we going to uncover that?" Enrile asked the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) at the resumption of the Senate blue ribbon hearing on the money laundering cases.

AMLC executive director Julia Abad, however, said it is not within the anti-money laundering council's jurisdiction to investigate the hacking aspect because it happened outside the Philippines.

"It is interesting to know how it was committed and who committed it but it is no longer within our jurisdiction to investigate that aspect – the hacking aspect – because it happened in another jurisdicition. We don’t have authority or jurisdiction to investigate that party," Abad said.

Enrile, however, said the AMLC should do anything to come into the picture of what really happened, especially now that the country has been pictured out as a "weak link in the international financial system".

"Through a new technology that perhaps was an ABC to the hackers but it is very esoteric to us. Now, I’m addressing this to you because you’re part of the government," he said.

At the sidelines of the hearing, Bangladeshi Ambassador to Manila John Gomes said they were looking forward to resolving the issue, most especially that businessman Kim Wong had revealed all the information he knew about the scheme.

While there are still certain "gray areas" in the way the inquiry goes, Gomes said the Bangladesh is hoping to get their money back.

"We are quite happy that Mr. Kim Wong revealed certain facts, which are not known," Gomes said. "We are actually very optimistic the way it's going on. And it’s very transparent. So I think it’s going to the right direction."

(Video by Ruth Abbey Gita/Sunnex)

With Wong's testimony, Senate blue ribbon committee chair Teofisto Guingona III said he has to weigh the new information that cropped up during the hearing and will be revealed in the next hearing.

"New issues have come up, new confrontations have come up so we need more data, we need more facts, and we need more evidence so we can have reasonable conclusion for this tale that is happening between all the parties here in the $81-million money laundering," the senator told reporters after the hearing.

"It's hard to make an assessment right now because we see only half of the picture, one-fourth of the picture. So we still need succeeding hearings," he added.

Guingona said he wants to hear Deguito's side so he could assess whether Wong's claims are true or not. (Sunnex)
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