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So where is the money?

Mahmudur Rahman | Published: June 03, 2019 21:29:47


-Reuters file photo

It would appear that following on from the case filed with the United States court to realise the Bangladesh Bank heist of $81 million dollars from the foreign reserves the Rizal Commercial Banking Corporation of the Philippines has charged five individuals for complicity. The five have been charged with wilful blindness doctrine and one individual has been charged with paying $110 million dollars in fines. No doubt there will be appeals but the fact that severe investigations are taking place pales before the almost lackadaisical approach of our central bank.

To date the initial fact finding report has been kept under wraps for reasons unknown and little has been made known as to how the moneys transferred to Sri Lanka were recovered in the first place. There were a number of causes given out for non-revelation of the initial report including compromising of the case in question. A police case filed after a prolonged delay didn't reveal the grilling of the persons accused and the one person who could have thrown light on the matter first vanished without trace and after a sudden reappearance held his peace. Little is known whether the passport seizure of the persons accused is still in place and indeed whether their whereabouts are known.

Compare that with the Rizal Banking Corporation and its hard stand on money laundering and it makes for very poor reading. The media seems to have lost its interest in the matter which is just as strange. Whether censorship is at work is not known but information continues to trickle in from foreign sources. Yet nothing is emerging from the Bangladesh Embassy or indeed foreign media as to the state of the case from the US court. All in all, it is puzzling. Assuming assumptions are correct bigwigs were obviously involved in that more than one person had the password required for the release of the funds. Even the former Governor Atiur Rahman has been strangely silent.

What now seems obvious is that the return of the funds is taking precedence over detecting the persons involved in the heist. It's almost as if the mere return of the money and not the crime itself is of import.

The Philippines Department of Justice (DoJ) has gone as far as denying motions of reconsiderations from the five respondents. The question, therefore, is if the Philippines can be that strict why we are being so lenient. It's almost as if the money belongs to them rather than us. In the meantime, as the Doj opined it was a deliberate avoidance of knowledge of a crime. And that's compared to where the crime actually took place.

By the way, RCBC Jupiter Branch Manager, as reports have it, Maia Santos-Deguito has been fined $110 million dollars. That's more than what we lost, so maybe that's a tidy sum to make good our loss given all of the money won't be recovered.

The writer may be reached at mahmudrahman@gmail.com

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