Bangladesh thanks PH gov’t, Inquirer for return of stolen money
Bangladesh Ambassador to the Philippines Lt. John Gomes thanked the Philippine government and the Inquirer newspaper for the return of the initial $15 million recovered portion of $81-million laundered funds from the Bangladesh central bank.
Gomes said an additional $38.3 million of the funds is also expected to be remitted to his government pending trial court decision in Manila.
“It was the Inquirer that initially reported the $81 Million Bangladesh bank heist which is considered one of the biggest (money laundering) ever happened in the (international) banking sector, “ said Gomes.
He added that “Bangladesh is very grateful to the Philippine government and always to the Inquirer.”
Gomes was interviewed during the 86th National Day of Saudi held in a Makati hotel last Friday.
He said it was the Inquirer that revealed the information that prompted the Senate investigation and led to the identification of people behind it.
“If it were not for the Inquirer, we would not have known it soon, so the investigation started followed by the Senate hearing where some people were identified and part of the money laundered [was] released,” he said.
Gomes said a high-level delegation from Bangladesh will be in Manila by second week of November to officially receive the $15 million recovered funds laundered from the Bangladesh central bank and to meet with President Rodrigo Duterte and other high government officials.
The funds were remitted by casino junket operator Kam Sin Wong or Kim Wong and Eastern Hawaii Leisure Company to Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP).
The Manila Regional Trial Court (RTC) ordered the release of the funds to the Bangladesh government on September 19, 2016. The Department of Justice (DOJ), representing the Bangladesh government in court earlier issued release order of the $15 million worth of laundered funds to the central bank of Bangladesh.
The delegation includes Bangladesh law minister, finance minister, chairman of Parliamentary Committee of Finance, Attorney General and the governor of the Bangladesh central bank.
“But few more funds (to be returned) are in the pipeline,” said Gomes, saying he hopes the DOJ can facilitate the early release of some $38.3 million funds identified as part of the laundered amount from the Bangladesh central bank.
He said $2.3 million funds are still being held by Philippine Amusement & Gaming Corp. (Pagcor).
At the same time, Gomes said Eastern Hawaii Leisure Company still has to remit $7 million. “We’re also expecting $29 million laundered funds that went to Solaire (casino),” said Gomes.
“We are very optimistic that we’re going to get all the remaining funds.”
Gomes said his government “is willing to wait because the release has to go through court proceedings…we believe the Philippine government is very serious about t it.
The Bangladesh government said a total of $81million had been stolen through cyberhacking from the account of Bangladesh Bank, the Central Bank of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh, maintained at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. RAM/rga
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