Duterte commits to return heist money to Bangladesh

President Rodrigo Duterte pledged to return $81 million of stolen funds by cyber criminals from the account of Bangladesh Bank in New York and channeled through accounts in the Philippines. The move projects his policy vector for combating corruption within the country to the other nations of the region and sends a strong message of his intentions.

The cyber criminals tried to steal more than $1 billion from Bangladesh Bank’s account at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York in February but only succeeded in transferring $81 million. The funds were later laundered via local casinos in the Philippines while $2.7 million were frozen by the Philippines’ casino regulator. The Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) has pledged to work along with Bangladesh Bank in recovering the frozen funds, which further symbolizes the country’s openness for cooperation with its regional neighbors.

The issue is of a big importance for the Philippines fight against corruption as it signifies the country’s cooperation with another troubled by the corruption nation such as Bangladesh. Therefore, Bangladesh’s finance minister might travel to the Manila to meet Duterte in person to help in the recovery of the funds, which will also seal growing relations between the two nations.

The recovery of the money has already taken place as Ricardo J. Paras III, chief state counsel of the Philippines DoJ, informed Reuters that he has already drafted court documents to launch recovery of the $15 million. President Rodrigo Duterte has also praised the efforts for returning money to Bangladesh with expressed hopes for resolving the issues at the nearest time.

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