Philippine bank used in Bangladesh heist wins shareholder support

A Philippine bank used by cyber criminals to channel $81 million stolen from the Bangladesh central bank won support from a top shareholder on Monday after being penalised by its regulator.

Rizal Commercial Banking Corp (RCBC) was fined a record one billion pesos ($21 million) by the Philippine central bank on Friday after hackers who tried to steal nearly $1 billion from Bangladesh Bank's account at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York in February succeeded in transferring $81 million to four accounts at RCBC in Manila.

Only about $18 million of the missing money has been recovered.

RCBC, which said the penalty would not affect its operations, won strong backing from Cathay Life Insurance Co Ltd, a unit of Taiwan's Cathay Financial Holding Co Ltd. Cathay Life is RCBC's biggest shareholder after majority owner Yuchengco Group.

"What's happening to RCBC is unfortunate," Cathay Financial spokesman Daniel Teng told Reuters. "We will do our best to support RCBC's management team to meet requests from the BSP (central bank) or even beyond its expectations."

The World Bank's International Finance Corporation (IFC), which owned around 8 percent of RCBC as of April, said it was aware of the sanctions imposed by the central bank of the Philippines and remained "fully committed to cooperating with authorities".

IFC declined to comment on whether it would reconsider its stake in the bank.

In April, Cathay Life and the Yuchengco family's holding group, Pan Malayan Management and Investment Corp, announced that they had raised their holding in RCBC even as its shares fell amid an investigation over the heist.

Bangladesh Bank has held RCBC responsible for letting the stolen money leave its systems despite red flags, but the Manila bank has said the money transfers were done based on authenticated transfer instructions over international payments network SWIFT.

Authorities in the Philippines are still working on the case, though most of the money that was laundered through Manila casinos remains missing.

Source: Business Standard

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