MANILA, (Pakistan Point News - APP - 5th Augst,2016) - The Philippines Central Bank on Friday handed a local bank a record $21 million Dollar fine after it was used by hackers to channel millions of Dollars stolen from Bangladesh into local casinos. In February, unidentified cyber criminals shifted $81 million from the Bangladesh central bank's account with the US Federal Reserve to a Manila branch of the Rizal Commercial Banking Corp (RCBC), from where it was funnelled into local casinos.
The central bank said in a statement it had approved the record one billion pesos ($21 million) fine after a "special examination" of the bank and its role in the audacious cyber heist. The fine was part of its "supervisory enforcement action on RCBC", the central bank said in a statement. The move shows the central bank's "strong commitment to ensure the stability of the country's financial system through strong and effective regulation," it added.
RCBC said separately that it would pay the fine in two instalments over a one-year period. The brazen cyber heist highlighted how the Philippines' banking loopholes and anti-money laundering laws have made the impoverished and corruption-weary Southeast Asian nation a dirty money destination. Philippine law exempts casino transactions from scrutiny by the country's anti-money laundering council without a case filed in court.
Filipino authorities now say they have tracked down all but $21 million of the loot, but have only recovered a fraction of it. The Philippines' Anti-Money Laundering Council has filed a suit to gain control of the alleged stolen funds from RCBC, the casinos, and a Manila-based Chinese casino operator. But the process is expected to take years, with Bangladesh voicing frustration at the slow pace of the return of surrendered funds. The Bangladesh theft was one of a series of spectacular cyber attacks against banks this year that have heightened fears the industry is becoming an increasingly attractive target for hackers.