RCBC slams money laundering report as ‘malicious, actionable,’ launches probe
MANILA — “Malicious and actionable.”
That was how Lorenzo Tan, the president and CEO of the Rizal Commercial Banking Corp., described the “insinuations” that the top officials of the financial giant — controlled by Chinese-Filipino tycoon Alfonso Yuchengco — were aware of multimillion dollar transactions that were later suspected to be part of an international money laundering scheme.
In a press statement issued on Wednesday, Tan vowed to “fully cooperate with all ongoing inquiries and believe that I and consequently the bank’s management will be fully vindicated.”
“I condemn as malicious and actionable insinuations that the top management of the bank knew of and tolerated alleged money laundering activities in one branch,” he said referring to the $81-million (almost P4 billion at the prevailing exchange rate) international wire transfer made to the bank’s Jupiter St. branch in Makati City last Feb. 5, 2016.
The funds were converted to pesos by the bank’s foreign exchange partner and then moved to the bank accounts of personalities linked to the local casino industry. Sources told the Philippine Daily Inquirer that some of the funds were then wired back overseas, including to, at least, one bank in Hong Kong — all in a span of a few days.
Another $870 million in wire transfers were blocked after local banking regulators were alerted by foreign banks that approximately $1 billion went missing from the accounts of the Bangladesh Bank (that country’s central bank) due to an alleged computer hacking.
In his statement, the RCBC chief stressed his experience and track record in the local financial services industry.
“I have been in the Philippine banking industry for 18 years rebuilding banks, instituting reforms in Philippine and Asian banking, creating products for the unbanked and providing capital to small entrepreneurs,” he said.
Tan added: “My track record is unblemished and even counts positions of trust such as head of the Bankers Association of the Philippines and the Asian Bankers Association.”
Meanwhile, RCBC itself issued a statement saying it was investigating the large dollar deposit in question at its Jupiter branch “and the subsequent transactions thereon.”
RCBC Corporate Vice Chair Cesar E.A. Virata assured the public that “the bank is cognizant of its bank secrecy obligations and will at all times maintain confidentiality of its accounts.”
“RCBC and its principal shareholders – the Yuchengco family, Cathay Life, the largest life insurance company in Taiwan, and IFC, the investment arm of the World Bank – are fully committed to comply with all banking laws and regulations, in particular those on money laundering,” he said in his statement.
“The bank has timely submitted the required reports to the AMLC and will cooperate with government regulators,” Virata added. “The bank investigation will involve a committee appointed by the board, assisted by SGV and external counsel.”
Virata said that the bank would issue subsequent reports and statements on the progress of its investigation. SFM
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.