Clarification on stolen funds from Bangladesh
We wish to clarify a few points made in the editorial “Absurd decision” (9/11/17).
First, the statement that Bangladesh has yet to recover part of the $81 million stolen from it despite the turnover of the funds to the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) for safekeeping is not true. On Nov. 10, 2016, the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) and the BSP turned over to the Bangladeshi government approximately P700 million in two currencies — $4.63 million and P488.2 million. This turnover was done pursuant to the writ of execution dated Oct. 27, 2016, of the regional trial court in Manila. Those present during the turnover included the ambassador of the Republic of Bangladesh, officials of Bangladesh Bank (the lawful owner of the funds), the court sheriff, and representatives of the AMLC, the BSP and the Department of Justice. The turnover, which took place about 10 months ago, was fully documented by both Philippine and Bangladeshi authorities, and manifested to the court.
Second, even as the complaints against Kim Wong, Michael and Salud Bautista and the fictitious account holders were dismissed, the case does not end with such a dismissal. Other legal remedies are available, and will be thoroughly exhausted, if the DOJ’s findings are not supported by the facts and the evidence. We would prefer to keep our options open at this point.
Third, the statement that Maia Santos Deguito will face trial alone is too premature. In addition to filing a money laundering complaint against Deguito, the AMLC also filed joint and consolidated money laundering complaints against ranking officials and branch staff of the concerned bank. We do not, and cannot, comment on pending cases. The DOJ has yet to complete the preliminary investigation against the other ranking officials and branch staff.
MEL GEORGIE B. RACELA, executive director, Anti-Money Laundering Council
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