Recto: PH gov't may retrieve $34-M in Bangladesh cyber heist

THE Philippine government may still recover about $34 million of the $81-million funds stolen from the Bangladesh central bank if authorities would act swiftly, Senator Ralph Recto said on Wednesday.

Recto issued the statement upon learning that not all the $81 million were laundered successfully through Philippine-based casinos.

"While the Senate blue ribbon committee is solving this great puzzle, our law enforcement agencies must act swiftly to recover any portion of the loot that is still within Philippine soil," the senator said in a radio interview.

"There is a chance that we can recover $34 million if local authorities will zero in on the paper trail established during the Senate hearings," he added.

Businessman Kim Wong, who testified at the Senate probe on the money laundering scandal on Tuesday, said only $61 million of $81 million found its way to Philippine casinos while some $17 million are still with Philrem Corporation, remittance firm responsible for transferring the stolen money from Rizal Commercial Banking Corporation to different accounts and individuals.

Wong also admitted that a total of P1 billion went to his firm Eastern Hawaii Leisure Co. Ltd., but P550 million of the amount was given to casino player who already lost the money to baccarat games.

He, however, said he is willing to surrender to the authorities the entire P450 million that his company received.

Apart from the $17 million allegedly with Philrem and the P450 million with Wong, Recto noted that almost $7 million of the stolen money had been traced and may be retrieved from casino accounts.

"What's important is we get all the money that can be brought back to Bangladesh because we know that the stolen money belongs to this poor country," Recto said.

If the money will not be retrieved, Senator Paolo Benigno Aquino III said there are no legal consequences in the Philippines but the incident will be a "national disgrace" to the country for being involved in such cyber heist. (Sunnex)

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