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PHNO HEADLINE NEWS THIS PAST WEEK
(Mini Reads followed by Full Reports below)

BINAY VS INQUIRER (PDI) & SENATE PROBE ON $81-M CYBERHESIT
BINAY CAMP WARNS INQUIRER RE PUBLISHING OLD, REHASHED, FALSE AMLC STORY


MARCH 16 -QUICHO -‘See you in court, PDI’  See you again in court. This was the message of the camp of United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) standard bearer, Vice President Jejomar “Jojo” Binay to the Philippine Daily Inquirer (PDI), particularly its reporter, Nancy Carvajal, for publishing a rehashed story on the supposed Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) report on the alleged pay-off received by the Vice President for the construction of the Makati City Hall Building II despite a gag order issued by the court for all parties concerned. The Inquirer story on the AMLC report was clearly an old story, passed off as the latest AMLC report, as the published report even stated that the alleged dummies of Binay never even bothered to have the court’s freeze order lifted in the 242 bank accounts which it claimed to be in the billions and had never bothered to get them back. This is false reporting considering the fact that the so called owners of the claimed dummy accounts sought the lifting of these accounts and were granted by the court, after the freeze order lapsed. This AMLC report, however, was the ex-parte freeze order based on what the AMLC had claimed, but which this agency retracted in court, saying that Binay had only one bank account with P1.7 million in it. Stated differently this AMLC is an old one, but made to appear as new report, and timed during the campaign and surveys, to bring down Binay’s numbers and chances of winning the presidential polls. Binay slams PDI, AMLC In an interview during a break in the Vice President’s campaign sortie in Ilocos Sur, Binay’s campaign spokesman, lawyer Rico Quicho lashed at PDI for acting as the spokesman for the administration-created demolition team whose primary goal is to destroy the Vice President and his chances in the May 9 polls. READ MORE...RELATED, AMLC backtracks on Binay accounts – UNA...AND UNA says AMLC too busy with Binay to prevent massive heist...

ALSO: By Oscar Franklin Tan - Binay has no right to reply to Inquirer


MARCH 20 -By Atty. Oscar Franklin Tan -The Commission on Elections (Comelec) has no power to dictate what a newspaper may publish on its front page. Its “right to reply” regulations, first passed for the 2013 elections, clearly exceed its powers under our Constitution. The Inquirer published a front page exclusive last March 17 on Vice President Jejomar Binay’s alleged P100 million transfer to Hong Kong, using a remittance firm involved in the alleged $81 million money laundering scheme recently investigated by the Senate. The United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) has asked Comelec to grant a right to reply with the same prominence. This would require the Inquirer to publish UNA’s reaction on its front page. Any self-respecting newspaper would go to court before being forced to do this. We have, unfortunately, inconsistent laws on the right to reply. Art. IX-C, Sec. 4 of our Constitution authorizes Comelec to regulate all permits to operate mass media during elections. This regulation “shall aim to ensure equal opportunity, time, and space, and the right to reply, including reasonable, equal rates therefor, for public information campaigns and forums among candidates.” Supreme Court (SC) doctrine interpreting Art. IX-C, Sec. 4 has consistently dealt with paid political ads, not news. READ MORE...RELATED, UNA INVOKES COMELEC RESO VS DAILY INQUIRER, Cites right to reply...

ALSO: Solons - Pagcor to blame for $81-M ‘cybertheft’


MARCH 17 -KUWAIT TIMES HEADLINE -Man in Manila gets $30m cash – Bangladesh bank chief quits over $81m cyber heist – Outrage in Bangladesh. DHAKA: Bangladesh Bank Governor Atiur Rahman, who resigned yesterday, addresses a press conference yesterday. - AP DHAKA: IN MANILA: Bangladesh’s central bank governor resigned yesterday over the theft of $81 million from the bank’s US account, as details emerged in the Philippines that $30 million of the money was delivered in cash to a casino junket operator in Manila. They managed to transfer $81 million to entities in the Philippines. KUWAIT TIMES MARCH  16, 2016  SENATE SETS EXECUTIVE SESSION Senate probers in the $81 million cyber theft of the Bangladesh central bank routed into the country had zeroed in on state firm Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (Pagcor) for the country’s weak anti-money laundering law.Sen. Sergio Osmeńa III, vice chairman of the Senate blue ribbon committee and chairman of the committee on banks, financial institutions and currencies, said Pagcor, which is under the Office of the President, strongly lobbied for the removal of casinos from being covered by the Anti-Money Laundering Act (AMLA) when it was amended by Congress in 2012, under the term of President Aquino. Pagcor lobbied with the House of Representatives to relax the provisions of opposition of the international watchdog against dirty money, the Financial Action Task Force (FATF).The amended AMLA was supposed to provide more teeth to the existing law and remove the country from the “grey list” of the FATF.“The FATF was for the inclusion of the casinos. I was outvoted for the inclusion of the casinos in the bicam (bicameral conference committee level) and ones that lobbied heavily, I think, is the congressional contingent,” Sen. Teofisto “TG” Guingona, blue ribbon committee chairman and one of the authors of the amended AMLA when it went through amendments some two to three years ago.“Let’s see if Pagcor will cooperate with us. In the beginning nobody wanted to attend from Pagcor. Yeah, he’s not going to attend. He said he’s going to send somebody but I refused,” Osmeńa told reporters, referring to the Pagcor chief executive officer (CEO) Cristino Naguiat Jr. READ MORE...RELATED, PH on US list of major money launderers...

ALSO: Binay’s law firm belies Inquirer report on sending P100M to HK
[LAW OFFICE SAYS AMLC REPORT A ‘SMEAR CAMPAIGN, MALICIOUS RETALIATION’]


MARCH 17 -Presidential candidate Vice President Jejomar Binay.
INQUIRER FILE PHOTO/LYN RILLON The law firm of Vice President Jejomar Binay on Thursday belied the banner story of the Philippine Daily Inquirer on the Anti-Money Laundering (AMLC) report that it sent more than P100 million to Hong Kong using the same remittance company involved in the alleged laundering of $81 million from the Bank of Bangladesh.
Binay’s law office, the law firm of Subido Pagente Certeza Mendoza and Binay (SPCMB), through lawyer Claro Certeza dismissed the AMLC report as a “pathetic attempt” to supposedly divert public attention to the alleged money laundering scheme being investigated by the Senate blue ribbon committee. READ: Binay sent P100M to HK via Philrem “Today’s screaming headline in the Philippine Daily Inquirer is but a pathetic attempt to divert and diminish public attention to the most embarrassing scandal of all—the inefficiency and ineptitude of the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) and the present administration to prevent the US$81.0 million money laundering involving the foreign reserved funds of the government of Bangladesh,” Certeza said in a statement. “By allowing itself to be used as a political tool to harass and persecute those opposing the current administration, the AMLC ignored its mandate to address the serious money laundering cases being brazenly committed by international crime syndicates in the Philippines,” he added. Citing a 62-page AMLC report, the Inquirer on Thursday reported that Philrem Service Corp. facilitated the dispatch of various amounts to Citibank in Hong Kong for Three Star Phil, a firm in the British Virgin Islands that was allegedly an investor in a Binay dummy company, in October 2014. The Senate on Tuesday heard testimony that Philrem had converted $81 million that computer hackers diverted from the Bangladesh central bank to the Philippines into pesos. Certeza said the AMLC report manifested the agency’s “inefficiency and ineptitude” by failing to keep the confidentiality of all reports and proceedings under the Anti-Money Laundering Act, noting that a gag order was issued by a Manila regional trial court pending resolution of a civil forfeiture case. “AMLC allowed the Philippine Daily Inquirer to print several articles involving its dubious report that is replete with lies, half-truths, misleading statements and allegations that have since been retracted by the AMLC,” the lawyer said.  READ MORE...RELATED, Binay, Duterte in mud fight over corruption...

ALSO: Senators want casinos covered by Anti-Money Laundering Act


MARCH 17 -The Senate Blue Ribbon Committee, chaired by Sen. Teofisto “TG” Guingona III, will resume its inquiry into the reported laundering of $81 million that suspiciously went through the country’s financial system, including local casinos. Senate/Released
  Senators have stressed the need to include casinos in the coverage of the Anti-Money Laundering Act (AMLA) following the $81-million money laundering issue.
The money laundering issue involves funds allegedly hacked from the Bank of Bangladesh in the United States, and which reportedly entered the Philippine financial system. The funds were reportedly transferred to accounts of major casino players and were used to "buy chips" or "pay for casino losses." Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago said that the country risks becoming the world's money laundering capital if the casino sector remains outside the coverage of the AMLA. The Philippines is currently under the "grey list" of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), a global body that monitors and tries to prevent money laundering and terrorist financing. According to its website, the Paris-based group comes up with policy recommendations to combat "threats to the integrity of the international financial system." The country will suffer higher financial transaction costs if it gets blacklisted by the FATF, Santiago said. Senate President Franklin Drilon said that the next president must have strong political will to amend the AMLA and include casinos in its coverage. READ MORE...RELATED, Palace sees more banking reforms after $81-M heist...  ALSO $81-M bank heist may be biggest in Asia: Int’l consultant...


READ FULL MEDIA REPORTS HERE:

Binay camp warns PDI re rehashed, false AMLC story


QUICHO, BINAY'S LAWYER -‘See you in court, PDI’

MANILA, MARCH 21, 2016 (TRIBUNE) Written by Charlie V. Manalo Wednesday, 16 March 2016 00:00 See you again in court. This was the message of the camp of United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) standard bearer, Vice President Jejomar “Jojo” Binay to the Philippine Daily Inquirer (PDI), particularly its reporter, Nancy Carvajal, for publishing a rehashed story on the supposed Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) report on the alleged pay-off received by the Vice President for the construction of the Makati City Hall Building II despite a gag order issued by the court for all parties concerned.

The Inquirer story on the AMLC report was clearly an old story, passed off as the latest AMLC report, as the published report even stated that the alleged dummies of Binay never even bothered to have the court’s freeze order lifted in the 242 bank accounts which it claimed to be in the billions and had never bothered to get them back.

This is false reporting considering the fact that the so called owners of the claimed dummy accounts sought the lifting of these accounts and were granted by the court, after the freeze order lapsed.

This AMLC report, however, was the ex-parte freeze order based on what the AMLC had claimed, but which this agency retracted in court, saying that Binay had only one bank account with P1.7 million in it.

Stated differently this AMLC is an old one, but made to appear as new report, and timed during the campaign and surveys, to bring down Binay’s numbers and chances of winning the presidential polls.

Binay slams PDI, AMLC

In an interview during a break in the Vice President’s campaign sortie in Ilocos Sur, Binay’s campaign spokesman, lawyer Rico Quicho lashed at PDI for acting as the spokesman for the administration-created demolition team whose primary goal is to destroy the Vice President and his chances in the May 9 polls.

READ MORE...

“That is an old story and it comes from a newspaper which we had included among the individuals and institutions we have filed charges with,” said Quicho.

“This newspaper has to be held responsible for spreading lies,” he added.

Quicho made the statement in reaction to the Inquirer story written by Carvajal alleging Binay got billions of pesos from the construction of the Makati City Hall Building II as per a report supposedly coming from the AMLC.

However, Quicho said that no less than the AMLC had corrected itself when it said Binay only has one account out of the 242 bank accounts it had initially attributed to the VP, adding Binay maintains only P1.7 million in the said account and not billions of pesos as earlier reported.

“That case is already being heard and the AMLC had declared that of all the bank accounts it had requested to be frozen, Vice President Binay only owns one account with a balance of P1.7 million,” said Quicho.

AMLC failed to substantiate raps vs VP, drops raps

“The AMLC also admitted that it has been dropping one by one the names of the individuals and the corporations which it had earlier included in the list as it had failed to substantiate its allegations that those individuals and corporations were used as dummies by the Vice President,” said Quicho.

The VP’s daughter, Sen. Nancy Binay, was more direct in warning the PDI: “I just have one message for the Inquirer. See you in court again,” said the younger Binay, adding the first libel case the Vice President filed against certain individuals and institutions, is already being heard in court.

“It is very obvious the Inquirer is being used in the Oplan Stop Nognog. If you will recall, last year the Inquirer published no less than 30 headline stories against my family,” she stressed.

“Its latest story is a rehashed story. They’re making it appear there is a new AMLC report when there’s none. It’s really a demolition job against the Vice President,” the younger Binay said.

LIES

Quicho and Senator Binay also belied the Inquirer story that the money the vice president got from the Makati City hall Building 2 pay-off was used to finance his 2010 campaign.

“First of all, I would like to ask where did the Inquirer get the report? What was the reason it was released to the Inquirer when it is being heard in the Regional Trial Court of Manila where the AMLC has to prove its allegations before the court renders it decision,” Quicho said.

“So why when it is being tried in court, it is also being tried in the media? Why are they resorting to a trial by publicity?” Quicho asked.

Senator Binay for her part, said everything her father spent for his 2010 campaign had been cleared by the Commission on Elections (Comelec) after having been reported through the Statement of Contributions and Expenses (SOCE), a requirement of the poll body.

“Everything regarding my father’s campaign expenses in 2010 have been documented and have been submitted to the Comelec,” said the lawmaker.

“What is saddening here is that we are being asked to comment over an alleged report. We don’t even have a copy of that report. How can we justify or explain our side on a report we are not even sure if it exists,” the younger Binay said.

“I dare Inquirer to bring out that report of which they claim they have a copy. Bring it out in the open, distribute copies if they really have a copy of the AMLC report,” she added.

“Has anyone here seen a copy of the AMLC report? Are we to answer over a report that only Nancy Carvajal has seen? She asked.

Quicho said the AMLC report is strictly confidential that anyone who is found to have leaked a copy could be held responsible.

“But then, it no longer surprises us.

The Commission on Audit (CoA) has released a partial report, the Ombudsman has spoken and even the BIR (Bureau of Internal Revenue) and now this AMLC leaked report. No one here needs to be a rocket scientist to determine these are all orchestrated efforts so they could come up with issues against Vice President in the next debate,” Quicho said.

“Unfortunately, the Vice President cannot comment on these issues as they are already being heard in court,” said Quicho.
Senator Binay added they would be consulting with their lawyers o how to deal with the PDI as it had violated the gag order issued by the court restraining all concerned parties from commenting on the issues.

“There’s a pending gag order issued by the court for all concerned parties. I think our lawyers will exhaust all legal remedies, whether to file another case, to inform the court that one party (the PDI) did not follow the gag order,” said the senator.

“And I assure you we will exhaust all legal remedies available to us,” she said.

AMLC corrected twice its report



UNA president, Navotas Rep. Toby Tiancgo bared the AMLC has corrected twice its petition for asset protection filed in November last year before the Manila Regional Trial Court, admitting that Binay has one bank account containing P1.7 million and not billions as it earlier claimed.

The agency also asked the court to drop Agrifortuna and JC Binay Foundation from the petition, an admission that it does not have evidence to link these two entities to alleged illegal activities.

“The AMLC has corrected its claim of 242 bank accounts. In its filings with the RTC, the AMLC admitted that only one bank account is under the name of VP Binay, with a balance of only P1.7 million, and not billions as the agency earlier claimed, should be the subject of the asset protection order,” Tiangco said.

At the same time, the Vice President’s camp will ask the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to identify the personalities responsible for the release of the supposed AMLC report used by the PDI in its banner story Tuesday.

“The Vice President sees the release of this outdated report as part of a well-orchestrated plot to destroy his reputation and stop his mission to serve the country as president,” Tiangco said.

“We have reviewed the headline published this morning in the Inquirer, particularly the portions lifted by the PDI reporter from a supposed AMLC report. While we do not have a copy of this report, we can deduce that the said document appears to be the basis for the petition praying for an asset protection order filed by the AMLC before the Manila Regional Trial Court (RTC) last November 2015 or almost four months ago,” he added.

Tiangco also said that besides correcting its claim that Binay had 242 bank accounts, the AMLC asked the court two weeks ago to drop JCB Foundation and Agrifortuna, Inc. from its petition.

“Last year, AMLC claimed that these two entities are the only alleged links of VP Binay to Mr. Gerardo Limlingan. But the AMLC’s recent motion constitutes an admission that it cannot prove its assertion and is mere conjecture. In short, the AMLC flip-flopped not only once, but twice,” he said.

Tiangco blasted the AMLC for its inconsistencies and flip-flopping positions, which he said showcases clear abuse of authority.

“In the Petition it filed with the RTC, the AMLC alleged, under oath, that all accounts mentioned contain illegal funds belonging to the Vice President.”

“However, just as the hearings of the case were about to begin - where the AMLC will be required to prove its allegations - it began asking the court to drop or exclude numerous accounts of several respondents. The AMLC claimed these accounts do not contain any funds that can be forfeited by the State,” he said.

“For more than six months, these accounts have been subjected to a thorough examination by the AMLC. The account holders became objects of ridicule and character assassination. And now AMLC says they goofed? What? They just say sorry?,” he added.

Tiangco also said that in the Ex Parte Petition for the Issuance of Freeze Order filed by AMLC with the Court of Appeals last May 2016, it stated under oath that from 2009 to 2014, Binay’s deposit transactions with several banks totaling at least P263 million and withdrawals of at least P266 million “originated from illicit and/or undeclared activities” because “his declared salaries per SALN as of 31 December 2009 as Makati City Mayor and 31 December 2010 as Vice President were P937,773 and P541,930, respectively.”

He said that the AMLC claimed that the Vice President did not declare any business interest. They also alleged there was a wide gap between his legitimate income and his total bank deposits during the period of 2009 to 2014.

Tiangco said that the AMLC now admits its assertions are false.

He cited its Petition filed with the RTC where it admits that the previously “unjustified deposits and withdrawals” actually pertain to campaign contributions and expenses.

The Vice President’s camp has maintained that these amounts have been duly declared and reported in his Statement of Campaign Contributions and Expenses.

FLIPFLOPS

“The AMLC’s flip-flopping as well as the actuations of certain AMLC officials show that the officials of the AMLC have been less than truthful. The officers of AMLC have deliberately used their office as a tool for political oppression. This is the reason the AMLC officials are also included in the P200 million damage suit filed by VP Binay,” said Tiangco.

Tiangco deplored that the AMLC has refused to divulge its “Report” in the damage suit and forfeiture case, which prevented the Vice President from responding to its claims comprehensively.

“It seems that the copy of their Report is exclusively for select media and LP officials. So much for ‘fairness’ and ‘due process’,” Tiangco stressed.

The UNA president also reiterated that Binay is ready to face all accusations in a court of law, but he would not let those resorting to criminal acts to malign him continue to do so with impunity.

“This latest chapter in the well-funded and well-planned black propaganda plot against the Vice President is unprecedented in scale and viciousness. That their determination to convict him through publicity came at a crucial period in the campaign is condemnable,” Tiangco added.

Tiangco also said that those seeking to put down the Vice President through trial by publicity should not be allowed to commit crimes and violate the law like they did in this latest episode involving the release and publication of a false AMLC Report.

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RELATED FROM THE MANILA BULLETIN

AMLC backtracks on Binay accounts – UNA by Ellson Quismorio March 16, 2016 Share0 Tweet0 Share1 Email0 Share17


Friday, February 15, 2013: President Benigno Aquino III signed into law the third bill amending the Anti-Money Laundering Act.(AMLA). Aquino previously signed into law the two other proposed amendments to the AMLA – Senate Bill 3009 and Senate Bill 3127. Senate Bill 3009 allows the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) to look into bank accounts of suspected money launderers without notifying them. Senate Bill 3127 or the Terrorism Financing Prevention and Suppression Act criminalizes terrorist financing as an offense separate from the crime of terrorism. – Rappler.com

The camp of United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) standard-bearer Vice President Jejomar Binay yesterday said that the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) has flip-flopped on its petition for asset protection after acknowledging that the opposition leader has only one bank account containing P1.7 million and not billions as it had earlier claimed.

The agency also asked the court two weeks ago to drop Agrifortuna and JC Binay Foundation from the petition, an admission that it does not have evidence to link these two entities to alleged illegal activities.

“Last year, AMLC claimed that these two entities are the only alleged links of VP Binay to Mr. Gerardo Limlingan. But the AMLC’s recent motion constitutes an admission that it cannot prove its assertion and is mere conjecture. In short, the AMLC flip-flopped not only once, but twice,” UNA president Navotas Rep. Tobias “Toby” Tiangco said in a statement yesterday.

Limlingan is Binay’s former financial adviser. His current whereabouts are unknown. Like former aide Ebeng Baloloy, Limlingan has been sought by senators in the subpanel probe.

The AMLC had earlier claimed that Binay – who has been hurled with several accusations of corruption before the Senate Blue Ribbon subcommittee hearings – owned 242 bank accounts.

“The AMLC has corrected its claim of 242 bank accounts. In its filings with the RTC (regional trial court), the AMLC admitted that only one bank account under the name of VP Binay, with a balance of only P1.7 million, and not billions as the agency had earlier claimed, should be the subject of the asset protection order,” Tiangco said.

Outdated

Tiangco stressed this new twist as he branded as outdated, a report accusing Binay of pocketing “billions” in public funds.

“The Vice President sees the release of this outdated report as part of a well-orchestrated plot to destroy his reputation and stop his mission to serve the country as president,” Tiangco said.

Binay’s camp said it will also ask the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to identify the personalities responsible for the release of the supposed AMLC report to media.

Tiangco underscored how the AMLC had “flip-flopped” twice on its own petition to freeze the bank accounts allegedly connected to the opposition presidential candidate.

Tiangco said that while UNA does not have a copy of the supposed AMLC report, we can deduce that the document appears to be the basis for the petition praying for an asset protection order filed by the AMLC before the Manila Regional Trial Court (RTC) in November, 2015, or almost four months ago.

Abuse of authority?

Tiangco blasted the AMLC for its inconsistencies and constantly changing positions, calling them a clear abuse of authority.

“In the Petition it filed with the RTC, the AMLC alleged, under oath, that all accounts mentioned contain illegal funds belonging to the Vice President.”

“However, just as the hearings of the case were about to begin – where the AMLC will be required to prove its allegations – it began asking the court to drop or exclude numerous accounts of several respondents. The AMLC claimed these accounts do not contain any funds that can be forfeited by the State,” he said.

“The account holders became objects of ridicule and character assassination. And now AMLC says they goofed? Ano, sorry na lang (So they’ll just say sorry)?” the congressman further said.

If anything, Tiangco says AMLC officials have been less than truthful.

“The officers of AMLC have deliberately used their office as a tool for political oppression. This is the reason the AMLC officials are also included in the P200-million damage suit filed by VP Binay,” he noted.

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RELATED FROM PHILSTAR

UNA says AMLC too busy with Binay to prevent massive heist By Rosette Adel (philstar.com) | Updated March 16, 2016 - 6:37pm 0 0 googleplus0 0


United Nationalist Alliance claims the Anti-Money Laundering Council's demolition efforts against Vice President Jejomar Binay caused its failure to oversee the $81-million bank heist.

MANILA, Philippines – The opposition party United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) said the Anti-Money Laundering Council’s (AMLC’s) obsession to demolish the credibility of UNA’s standard bearer Vice President Jejomar Binay is to be blamed for not preventing the alleged $81-million bank heist.

UNA president and Navotas Rep. Tobias “Toby” Tiangco said if only AMLC, chaired by Central Bank Governor Amando Tetangco Jr. focused on its job, the biggest cyber heist in the world could have been prevented.

“AMLC has devoted much of its precious time looking for imaginary anomalies committed by the vice president that it was unable to recognize an actual robbery happening right under their noses,” said Tiangco.

“The AMLC was so busy being a tool for political persecution and harassment in the guise of running after the corrupt. They may as well have welcomed these thieves with open arms,” he added.

Tiangco made the statement following the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee’s inquiry on the alleged multi-million dollar money laundered from the US account of Bangladesh's central bank.

Meanwhile, Binay said that AMLC’s moves are part of the negative campaign to tarnish his name. He said he hopes his prayer will allow him to see past his political rivals’ efforts to pull down his ratings and instead focus on his mission to listen to the poor's expectation from the next president.

READ MORE...

“Nandoon po ang continuing demolition by perception. Kasama sa programming ‘yon. ‘Yong paghahanda sa pangalawang debate. Kumana na naman sila Ombudsman, nakikisali. Nandiyan na ang COA. Ngayon, isinunod naman ito namang si AMLC,”ť Binay said.

Binay camp enumerated that the AMLC erred several times to correct its allegations against the vice president including its claim that Binay had billions in accounts which was allegedly just P1.7 million and its failure to prove accuser Renato Bondal’s claims that Binay stole money from the Makati projects' funds.

“It is unfortunate that the AMLC has allowed itself to be used this way. It was so caught up in its role of inventing news for the media to demonize the political opposition that it failed to raise the alarm on a massive heist. It is disappointing to find out that the agency had no idea what had transpired until Amando Tetangco Jr. received a call from his counterpart in the Central Bank of Bangladesh,”ť Tiangco said.

“Our government agencies should keep this in mind whenever they are being asked to play a part in dirty politicking. This mess is what awaits those who choose politics before country,”ť he added.

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RELATED FROM THE TRIBUNE

VP: ‘Bigger scandal’ subject of cover-up
Written by Angie M. Rosales Friday, 18 March 2016 00:00



ADMINISTRATION, ‘NOT SO SECRET CANDIDATE’ BEING SHIELDED

The camp of United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) standard bearer Vice President Jejomar Binay (photo) hinted that a possible cover-up of “a bigger scandal” is in the works in an attempt to highlight both the $81-million money laundering case and the rehashed but unrelated Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) reports on Binay in a pro-administration newspaper.

Binay counsel Claro Certeza described the subject of the cover-up as being meant to “hide a scandal so big that it affects those in the current administration and its not so secret candidate.”


CERTEZA

While he did not elaborate, Certeza detailed “undisputed facts” which he said “should be considered in trying to unmask the real motive behind this latest smear campaign, which are:

* The screaming headlines of the Philippine Daily Inquirer are published on the days that the Senate would conduct a hearing on the $81 million money laundering case;

* The law firm that represents the chairman of the AMLC in the P200 million libel case filed by the Vice President is also the same law firm representing the bank and its officials allegedly involved in the $81 million money laundering;

* A member of the AMLC, who may be held liable for being remiss in her duties on the US$81 Million money laundering case, is connected to the same law firm;

* The Senate President is connected to this same law firm;

* Members of the political party of the Senate President were the ones who changed the Senate version of the AMLA to exclude casinos;

* Wang Bo was accused of being part of a purported bribery attempt involving members of the political party to which the Senate President belongs.

Certeza said the article of the Inquirer resurrecting issues based allegedly on a purported AMLC report, which may have been issued more than five months ago and the subject of (a court) gag order, is a desperate attempt to mislead the public.

“Knowing the Philippine Daily Inquirer’s utter contempt for and its role in the demolition by public perception of Vice President Binay, this is not surprising anymore,” he said.

“Sadly, the newspaper has adopted the policy at the expense of truth,” he added.

Dequito implicates RCBC head


DEQUITO

At yesterday’s Senate hearing, Rizal Commercial Banking Corp. (RCBC) branch manager Maia Santos-Dequito linked her company president and chief executive officer (CEO) Lorenzo V. Tan with one of those implicated in the biggest cross-border electronic fraud and money laundering scheme involving some $81 million from the Bank of Bangladesh.

Trader Kam Sin Wong, also known as Kim Wong, received part of the stolen funds based on the initial probe by the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC), Senate probers were told yesterday.

Dequito insinuated before the Senate blue ribbon committee’s continuing investigation on the alleged laundering of $81 million into the country, that Tan and Wong have close personal ties, adding that the RCBC president even supposedly ordered her to provide preferential treatment to Wong.

Tan did not waste time in denying Dequito’s claims, saying that while he indeed knows Wong, he said they’re not really close.

Under questioning by committee chairman Sen. Teofisto “TG” Guingona, Dequito said she met Wong during the birthday party in 2013 of businessman and client Jason Go sometime, whom Tan acknowledged to have known for quite some time already.

Wong, as it turned out, was the one who supposedly referred the opening of the fictitious accounts in RCBC Jupiter branch that were found to have received the hacked funds from Bangladesh and transferred to the alleged fake account of businessman William So Go and laundered in casinos.

“Mr. Lorenzo Tan was there. Kim Wong was there. Some others. Kim Wong and Mr. Tan walked together and Mr. Tan told me to take care of that guy,” Dequito said adding that “from my perspective, I’m supposed to give him preferential acommodation or treatment.”

Yet, Dequito admitted also knowing Wong way back 2009 through client-friends when she was still with Export Bank or long before she joined RCBC.

“I met him though Jason Go because he is also buying cars (from Go). Go has been helping me in acquiring new clients,” she told senators, adding that Wong later on became a client when she transferred to East West bank or some two years after.
Tan vehemently denied association with Wong and reiterated that he did not recruit Dequito to RCBC.

“Going back to the first birthday party. I don’t remember that. I don’t think it happened because she just said earlier...I think she knew Mr. Wong more than me. I mean I met Mr. Wong twice in his restaurant. I didn’t see him for about 12 years and I only started seeing him recently. So in 14 years I probably saw him less than 10 times. Why would I tell her take care of this guy when he was already her client in a previous bank, right? It’s inconsistent,” Tan said.

“And I never invited her to join. Let me state. We have 6,600 employees, 171 branches, in my 18 years in Philippine banking I never interviewed a branch manager because there are five layers below me. The procedure is, people refer talent to you, you pass on their resumes to the business heads, HR (human resources),” he said.

“In the case of Dequito, I think we have email trails where she was interviewed by I think three or four people. She made commitments how much business she will bring in, there’s a paper trail. But she’s portraying herself as someone special, that I brought her in. It doesn’t happen (that way),” he added.

William So Go, on the other hand, admitted knowing Wong but stressed that they’re not close associates.



BY THE INQUIRER LEGAL COLUMNIST

Binay has no right to reply to Inquirer SHARES: 1239 VIEW COMMENTS By: Oscar Franklin Tan @inquirerdotnet Philippine Daily Inquirer 04:35 PM March 20th, 2016


United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) presidential bet Vice President Jejomar Binay meets with vendors of sutukil stalls in Lapu-Lapu city. HANDOUT PHOTO

The Commission on Elections (Comelec) has no power to dictate what a newspaper may publish on its front page. Its “right to reply” regulations, first passed for the 2013 elections, clearly exceed its powers under our Constitution.

The Inquirer published a front page exclusive last March 17 on Vice President Jejomar Binay’s alleged P100 million transfer to Hong Kong, using a remittance firm involved in the alleged $81 million money laundering scheme recently investigated by the Senate.

The United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) has asked Comelec to grant a right to reply with the same prominence.

This would require the Inquirer to publish UNA’s reaction on its front page. Any self-respecting newspaper would go to court before being forced to do this.

We have, unfortunately, inconsistent laws on the right to reply. Art. IX-C, Sec. 4 of our Constitution authorizes Comelec to regulate all permits to operate mass media during elections.

This regulation “shall aim to ensure equal opportunity, time, and space, and the right to reply, including reasonable, equal rates therefor, for public information campaigns and forums among candidates.” Supreme Court (SC) doctrine interpreting Art. IX-C, Sec. 4 has consistently dealt with paid political ads, not news.

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For example, the 1990 Sanidad case held: “[Nothing in Art. IX-C, §4] can be construed to mean that the Comelec has also been granted the right to supervise and regulate the exercise by media practitioners themselves.”

Unfortunately, the Fair Election Act of 2001 seems to unduly broaden the SC’s context. Sec. 10 of this law provides: “All registered parties and bona fide candidates shall have the right to reply to charges published against them. The reply shall be given publicity by the newspaper, television and/or radio station which first printed or aired the charges with the same prominence or in the same page or section or in the same time slot as the first statement.”

Comelec Resolution No. 10049 (2016) echoes Sec. 10, as did the 2013 resolution.

The right to reply in the Fair Election Act must be interpreted only to ensure fair opportunity to place political ads. Not even the weighty power over media granted to Comelec in our Constitution could possibly justify violating free speech by allowing anyone to dictate to a newspaper editor what to put on the front page.

An editor has the right to choose what prominence to give what topics. I originally denounced the right to reply (“To Grace Poe: Right to reply already law”, Opinion, 5/29/2014) when legislators proposed to pass it as law in response to legislators being named in the Inquirer’s 2014 corruption stories involving Janet Napoles.

Allowing a right to reply then would have destroyed the Inquirer and forced it to run a hundred denials as front page stories.

I highlighted how the Comelec’s 2013 right to reply regulations made this a real danger.

The Inquirer again faces the same blatantly unconstitutional attack on freedom of the press. There can be no right to reply applied to its front page when the Constitution clearly provides for none.

* * *


OSCAR FRANKLIN TAN
Legal opinion columnist Philippine Daily Inquirer December 2011 – Present (4 years 4 months)

React: oscarfranklin.tan@yahoo.com.ph , Twitter @oscarfbtan, facebook.com/OscarFranklinTan.

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RELATED FROM THE TRIBUNE

UNA cites right to reply Written by Charlie V. Manalo Sunday, 20 March 2016 00:00 font size decrease font size increase font size Print 5 comments


ATTY. JV BAUTISTA-INVOKES COMELEC RESO VS DAILY INQUIRER

The United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) petitioned the Commission on Elections (Comelec) yesterday to intervene in assuring fair play in media as the party asked the poll body to direct a local newspaper to print the side of UNA standard bearer Vice President Jejomar Binay on adverse articles which were given prominent treatment.

UNA secretary general, lawyer JV Bautista, said UNA has sought the Comelec’s intervention regarding “a damaging story published by the Philippine Daily Inquirer (PDI) last March 17 against UNA standard bearer Vice President Jejomar ‘Jojo’ Binay.”

Bautista cited Section 16 of Comelec Resolution 10049 that said “All registered parties and candidates shall have the right to reply to charges published or aired against them.”

Bautista said UNA is invoking its right to reply to the said article, saying the story “contained several defamatory and false statements” against Binay.

In a verified claim submitted to the Comelec, Bautista said the article, “Binay sent P100M to HK via Philrem: Transactions arranged by his law firm,” intended to tarnish Binay’s name.

“The article was clearly intended to tarnish the reputation and besmirch the name of Jejomar C. Binay in order to discredit him in the public, and thereby diminish, if not destroy, his chances of winning in the May 2016 Elections,” Bautista said.
Bautista also noted that the Inquirer article “put UNA in a bad light.”

The intention to discredit Binay, and consequently, UNA is underscored by the fact that just two days before the subject article was published, the screaming headline in the Philippine Daily Inquirer was ‘AMLC: Binay got billions: 8 dummies, 3 companies, 139 bank accounts traced to VP,’” he said.

The resolution also stipulated that the reply should be published with the same prominence or in the same page or section as the offending article.

In a previous statement, UNA said the Inquirer story seemed to be based upon the Anti-Money Laundering Council petition praying for an asset protection order filed before the Manila Regional Trial Court (RTC) in November 2015 Since then, AMLC has already admitted that Binay has one bank account, not 242 as it previously claimed, that contains only P1.7 million.

AMLC has also asked the court to drop from its petition JCB Foundation and Agrifortuna, Inc., both of which supposedly linked Binay to businessman Gerardo Limlingan.

The UNA standard bearer previously filed a P200-million civil suit against the Philippine Daily Inquirer Inc., AMLC officials and 12 others for “conspiring to destroy his reputation and consequently, to derail his presidential bid.”
Rehashed, recycled

Binay earlier said the story on the AMLC report was a rehashed story borne out of desperation from his political opponents.


BINAY

“It’s like a template. That newspaper did it again and then the television network readily airs it afterwards. It’s a continuing demolition by perception,” Binay said in an interview.

“There is nothing new there,” BInay said referring to the alleged AMLC report.

“There is no new report here. It’s just funny how my political opponents claim they will not stoop down to the level of dirty campaign tactics only to be discovered they are the ones behind all of these,” Binay added.

Binay however said does not expect the dirty campaign tactics being employed by his opponents to slow down as they see him as the real threat in the presidential elections.

“It will intensify. The more they become insecure, the more they are led to believe that I am winning. So they will continue their mudslinging and unfounded criticisms against me and my family,” Binay said.

UNA president, Navotas Rep. Toby Tiangco said it is the AMLC’s obsession with its mission to demolish the credibility which is to blame for its inability to prevent the $81-million bank heist that has stunned the nation.

“The AMLC has devoted much of its precious time looking for imaginary anomalies committed by the Vice President that it was unable to recognize an actual robbery happening right under their noses,” said Tiangco.

He said this as the country was still reeling from the revelations of yesterday’s Senate inquiry on what could be the biggest cyber heist in the world, pointing out that this could have been averted if only the AMLC, chaired by the Central Bank Governor of the Philippines, had been focused on its job.

“The AMLC was so busy being a tool for political persecution and harassment in the guise of running after the corrupt. They may as well have welcomed these thieves with open arms,” Tiangco said.


TIANGCO

The AMLC has twice corrected its petition for asset protection which was filed November last year before the Manila Regional Trial Court, admitting that the Vice President only had one bank account which contains P1.7 million and not billions as the agency has earlier claimed.

In an ex parte motion to drop respondents dated January 6, 2016, the AMLC asked the Manila court to drop as respondents in its petition for civil forfeiture Abba Land, Inc.; Agrifortuna, Inc.; JC Binay Foundation, Inc.; Makati Historical and Restoration Foundation, Inc.; Metrowaste Solid Waste Management Corporation; Powerlink.com Corporation; Kenneth Sabino S. Tan; and Clara Mae U. Ong, indicating that the agency failed to link the said entities and individuals to alleged illegal activities.

The motion, granted by the court on January 19, showed that the AMLC itself failed to prove the allegations of Atty. Renato Bondal that the Vice President stole from the funding for Makati projects.

In an interview with Mornings@ANC, Tiangco recalled the exchange between Senate minority leader Juan Ponce Enrile and Bondal during the last day of the year-long Senate hearing on the so called irregularities in the construction of the Makati City Hall Building 2.

“If you remember, during the last Senate hearing regarding this, Senator Enrile asked Bondal, what is the significance of JC Binay, to which he retorted, the corruption money is deposited under its name. he was asked again if there are oter accounts wherein the corruption money is deposited and Bondal answered in the negative,” said Tiangco.

“Now, if this is the account where the corruption money is deposited to, why then is the AMLC requesting for the lifting of the freeze order?” asked Tiangco.

The motion was already an admission on the part of the AMLC that the only entity Bondal used to link the Vice President to the so-called irregularities in Makati was apparently a bust.

“It is unfortunate that the AMLC has allowed itself to be used this way. It was so caught up in its role of inventing news for the media to demonize the political opposition that it failed to raise the alarm on a massive heist. It is disappointing to find out that the agency had no idea what had transpired until Amando Tetangco Jr. received a call from his counterpart in the Central Bank of Bangladesh,” Tiangco said.

“Our government agencies should keep this in mind whenever they are being asked to play a part in dirty politicking. This mess is what awaits those who choose politics before country,” he added.


TRIBUNE

Solons: Pagcor to blame for $81-M ‘cyberheist’ Written by Angie M. Rosales Thursday, 17 March 2016


KUWAIT TIMES HEADLINE -Man in Manila gets $30m cash – Bangladesh bank chief quits over $81m cyber heist – Outrage in Bangladesh. DHAKA: Bangladesh Bank Governor Atiur Rahman, who resigned yesterday, addresses a press conference yesterday. - AP DHAKA: IN MANILA: Bangladesh’s central bank governor resigned yesterday over the theft of $81 million from the bank’s US account, as details emerged in the Philippines that $30 million of the money was delivered in cash to a casino junket operator in Manila. The audacious cyber-theft has embarrassed the Bangladeshi government, triggered outrage in the impoverished country and raised alarm over the security of the country’s foreign exchange reserves of over $28 billion. The rest of the money hackers stole from the Bangladesh Bank’s account at the New York Federal Reserve, one of the largest cyber heists in history, went to two casinos, officials told a Philippines Senate hearing into the scandal. They said a mix of dollars and Philippine pesos was sent by a foreign exchange broker to the ethnic Chinese junket operator over several days, a haul that would have been made up of at least 780,000 banknotes. Unknown hackers last month breached the computer systems of Bangladesh Bank and attempted to steal $951 million from its Fed account, which it uses for international settlements, but the bank’s security systems and typing errors in some requests prevented the full theft. They managed to transfer $81 million to entities in the Philippines. FROM KUWAIT TIMES MARCH 16, 2016

MANILA - Senate probers in the $81 million cyber theft of the Bangladesh central bank routed into the country had zeroed in on state firm Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (Pagcor) for the country’s weak anti-money laundering law.

Sen. Sergio Osmeńa III, vice chairman of the Senate blue ribbon committee and chairman of the committee on banks, financial institutions and currencies, said Pagcor, which is under the Office of the President, strongly lobbied for the removal of casinos from being covered by the Anti-Money Laundering Act (AMLA) when it was amended by Congress in 2012, under the term of President Aquino.

SENATE SETS EXECUTIVE SESSION


GUINGONA OF THE BLUE RIBBON COMMITTEE

Pagcor lobbied with the House of Representatives to relax the provisions of opposition of the international watchdog against dirty money, the Financial Action Task Force (FATF).

The amended AMLA was supposed to provide more teeth to the existing law and remove the country from the “grey list” of the FATF.

“The FATF was for the inclusion of the casinos. I was outvoted for the inclusion of the casinos in the bicam (bicameral conference committee level) and ones that lobbied heavily, I think, is the congressional contingent,” Sen. Teofisto “TG” Guingona, blue ribbon committee chairman and one of the authors of the amended AMLA when it went through amendments some two to three years ago.

“Let’s see if Pagcor will cooperate with us. In the beginning nobody wanted to attend from Pagcor. Yeah, he’s not going to attend. He said he’s going to send somebody but I refused,” Osmeńa told reporters, referring to the Pagcor chief executive officer (CEO) Cristino Naguiat Jr.

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While they were still finalizing the guest list for Tuesday’s hearing, the senator was told that Naguiat will not be among the attendees and will be sending a representative, a legal counsel.

“I said I don’t want to talk to any lawyer, I want to talk to the executive who has direct knowledge. (I said) you can bring your lawyer with you but I want you to be there to answer questions,” Osmeńa said.



The probability of recovering the $81 million stolen from the Bangladesh central bank and laundered in the country is nil even as Senate probers scheduled an executive session as part of efforts to follow the money trail.

Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto said he will move for the conduct of an executive session when the Senate blue ribbon committee resumes its probe today on what he called as cyberheist scandal to provide them the needed “leads” on those behind the biggest laundering activity in the country.

“Her testimony is crucial in identifying all the characters involved in the plot and in connecting the dots to unravel the mystery behind the cyberheist,” Recto said, referring to Rizal Commercial Banking Corp. (RCBC) Jupiter branch manager Maia Santos-Deguito who is now at the center of the scandal and being alleged as point person in the whole transaction involving the raiding of funds of Bank of Bangladesh in New York early February this year.

During the other day’s Senate hearing on the laundered funds, Naguiat was asked by Senate probers on the matter of amending the AMLA in which casinos will be placed back in the institutions to be covered.

“We have no objection in (casinos) being under the AMLA or AMLC (Anti-Money Laundering Council),” he was quoted telling the panel.

Senators plans to grill three of the casinos allegedly “used” to launder the $81 million funds raided by hackers from the Bank of Bangladesh in New York last month that was recently discovered to have entered into the country, initially deposited in various purported bank accounts in Rizal Commercial Banking Corp. (RCBC) branch in Jupiter St., Makati City.

It was later reported to have been transferred to an account under the name of businessman William So Go which he vehemently denied to be owned by him, much more opened by him before branch manager Maia Santos-Dequito.

At least $30 million of the $81 million was believed to have been “used” by casino junket operators in Solaire, initially in peso denomination and eventually converted into dollars.

Two other casinos were allegedly also used to launder money, reports said.

“We have yet to question the president of Solaire because he was out of the country. He sent his corporate counsel and he (the lawyer) doesn’t know the details of the transactions. So when the president of Solaire comes back, we’re going to trace, if we’re still be able trace where the money went,” Osmeńa said.

Casino execs up for grilling

While the provisions of AMLA do not cover the casinos, Osmeńa stressed casino officials can be compelled to help trace the funds.

“Yes they can be compelled. It’s a crime. Now the AMLA covered transaction, institutions merely provide that transactions involving P500,000 and over, should be automatically reported (to the Anti-Money Laundering Council). The banks do it every time. All the banks in this country they have to give a report automatically.

“The casinos are not required to do this. They were included in the bill but the conditions were voluntary. So they are not compelled to report. Up to this time, I don’t think any casino has ever filed any suspicious transaction report. That is their business, they want your money, no questions asked,” he said.

“I want to know where the money went...can they trace that, can they show us the records that you received those amounts and to whom those amounts were credited and we’ll take it from them. We will have to try to trace to whom the money went,” he said.

Both Guingona and Osmeńa, however, expressed pessimism on whether their efforts will result in the recovery of the funds as requested by the Bangladesh central bank.

“It’s always possible. It depends on our agencies now to trace it. But I think it’s very, very difficult given that it has already entered the ‘black hole’,” Guingona said in an interview with reporters.

To a certain extent, Osmeńa said, it might be traced but once the funds were placed under anonymous accounts, it’s untraceable.

“We need the cooperation of the international agencies if we want to continue tracking the money. It’s good that this has become an international incident because at least there’s going to be pressure on the international police groups to help track it down,” he said.

It’s only at that point that the Senate can carry on with its probe as it will already be facing a blank wall unless the casinos being linked will cooperate.

“Where will we go?

They have to cooperate. We’re hoping they will cooperate without giving to many excuses,” he added.

Guingona agreed saying that it’s up to the investigating agencies such as the Department of Justice (DoJ), National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), Bureau of Immigration (BI) and international agencies to pursue the case especially as some of the key players have already fled the country.

But whether or not the casinos were not aware about the so-called dirty money used, they cannot be held criminally liable simply because “they’re not under [the jurisdiction of] the Anti-Money Laundering Act (AMLA),” he said.

“Even to the accounts of the casinos, there is a paper trail. It is verifiable because these entities are under the jurisdiction of the AMLA law. The only time where they can’t trace the money anymore is when these entered what we can term as a blackhole because casinos are not under any obligation to report to AMLC (Anti-Money Laundering Council),” Guingona added.

While they go on an executive session, both Osmeńa and Guingona are skeptical about squeezing information from Dequito who, during Tuesday’s hearing, promised to spill the beans in a closed door hearing.

“How vital it (her testimony) will be, we don’t know what she will say. She’s invoking her right against self-incrimination, that is her right but she also said she will talk if it’s in an executive session,” said Guingona.

Senate probers said they have called the branch manager of East West bank manager identified as a certain Allan Peńalosa who supposedly brokered a meeting between Dequito and the alleged beneficiary of the $81 million, businessman William So Go, to testify in the hearing to ascertain the truth whether or not the RCBC manager indeed acted on her own.



Recto is inclined to believe that there’s a grand conspiracy between a group of hackers and high officials of RCBC.

Recto admitted that it may be difficult to recover all the money stolen from the Bank of Bangladesh, noting that $66,000 is the only amount left in the Philippine bank after withdrawals from the heist plotters.

What is important, he said, is to bust the syndicate of hackers and bankers involved in the plot and put them behind bars as part of measures to protect the country’s banking system from cybercrimes.

According to Recto, the grand conspiracy will be fully established if the Senate panel could follow the paper trail on the following transactions: entry of stolen money ($81 million) to the Philippines through RCBC under the following four accounts:

Enrico Teodoro Vasquez, Alfred Santos Vergara, Michael Francisco Cruz, and Jessie Christopher Lagrosas [of William Go]; transfer of $22.7M from the account of Lagrosas to the account of William Go; transfer of money to Philrem Service Corp., a remittance company; conversion by Philrem, of the rest of the amount to Philippine peso through RCBC Treasury; remittance of the converted cash in Philippine peso to the following: Eastern Hawaii Leisure Corp - $21M, and Bloomberry Hotels, Inc. - $29M; and delivery of converted cash to Wei Kang Xu - $30M.

What the Senate panel also needs to uncover in future hearings, he said, were the answers to the following questions: who are the hackers’ contact in the RCBC? how was it possible to transfer huge amounts of money in such a short time? why AMLAC failed to monitor suspicious activity?

PhilRem responds



PhilRem Service Corp which converted the suspect currencies into pesos said in a statement it was February 5, Friday, when it got a call from Dequito and was “instructed to transfer funds immediately. The first transaction request was fulfilled the same day, February 5.”

“On February 9, 2016, Tuesday, we received two additional transaction requests from the same manager regarding the same client. On the same day, we got a call from the bank in question inquiring about the February 5 transaction coming from one of their branch managers. We were asked what the money was for and whose money was it, given that the instructions were coming from a branch manager of the same bank,” it said.

The statement added “we are relying on the representation of the bank, that it has already undertaken face-to-face contact and customer identification requirements. The bank then assured us that these transactions were valid and that there were no irregularities.”

“Given the assertion, coupled with our company’s respect and longstanding relationship with the bank in question, we had been assured of the validity of the transactions. Therefore, we carried on with the transaction following due process,” it said.

“We will continue to be present in the second subcommittee hearing this Thursday, March 17, 2016 to support the ongoing investigation as we understand that this is a very important case for the Philippines,” it added.



Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago said the fiasco involving funds hacked from Bank of Bangladesh highlights the urgent need to require casinos to report questionable deals to the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC).

“If the casino sector remains outside of the coverage of AMLA, the Philippines risks becoming the world’s money laundering capital,” the senator said.

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RELATED FROM THE INQUIRER

PH on US list of major money launderers SHARES: 3 VIEW COMMENTS By: Leila B. Salaverria @inquirerdotnet Philippine Daily Inquirer 02:59 AM March 20th, 2016

The next President should make the easing of the bank secrecy law one of his top priorities because of the embarrassing position in which the country has found itself in the alleged laundering of $81 million stolen by hackers from the central bank of Bangladesh, according to Sen. Sergio Osmeńa III.

Osmeńa said amending the law has now become a necessity with the Philippines being identified as one of the major money-laundering countries in 2015 in a report on money laundering and financial crimes by the US State Department released earlier this month.

Osmeńa joined an earlier call made by Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Governor Amado Tetangco Jr., who also chairs the Anti-Money Laundering Council, to amend the “very strict” Republic Act No. 1405, or the Law on the Secrecy of Bank Deposits, which he said was one of the obstacles in fighting money laundering.

READ: AMLC calls for easing of PH bank secrecy law

But with the latest controversy over the theft of $81 million from the Bangladesh central bank’s US account that was transferred to the Philippines where it vanished without a trace, there may be hope that his longstanding proposal, which has been stymied in Congress, to amend RA 1405 will prosper, Osmeńa said.

READ: Timeline: $81-M Money Laundering

“I hope this puts pressure on the next administration to give it priority, because it’s embarrassing. This is, No. 1, the biggest bank scam in Asia. People will say, ‘Do not send money to the Philippines because it’s a money-laundering center,’” Osmeńa said.

It emerged in a Senate investigation into the theft that the $81 million stolen last February from the US Federal Reserve account of the Bangladesh central bank was wired to the Jupiter, Makati City, branch of Rizal Commercial Banking Corp. (RCBC). The funds were then passed on to a foreign exchange broker, which transferred some $30 million in cash to an ethnic Chinese man who is believed to be a casino junket operator and the rest into accounts at two casino companies.

Serious concern

Osmeńa said the US State Department had identified the Philippines as one of the major money-laundering centers in the world in a report issued this month.

He was referring to the International Narcotic Control Strategy Report of the department’s Bureau for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs, which was posted in the US State Department website earlier this month.

“Money laundering is a serious matter in the Philippines because of its international narcotics trade, high degree of corruption among government officials, trafficking in persons and the high volume of remittances from Filipinos living abroad,” the report said.

Criminal syndicates

It said the Philippines faces challenges from sophisticated transnational drug-trafficking organizations (DTOs), including “Hong Kong triads,” or criminal syndicates, that use the country as a drug transit country for illegal drugs, mainly cocaine and methamphetamine.

“These DTOs use the Philippine banking system, commercial enterprises, and particularly casinos, to transfer drug proceeds from the Philippines to offshore accounts,” it said.

“Other transnational criminal organizations, including groups based in Africa, are expanding their presence throughout East Asia and will likely continue to exploit the Philippine financial system to launder and transfer drug-trafficking proceeds,” it added.

It also said insurgent groups in Mindanao clean dirty money through ties to organized crime, with the funds obtained from kidnapping-for-ransom activities and arms trafficking, and potentially narcotics.

Casinos the weak link

The report also said organized crime groups have infiltrated casinos in the region and have facilitated prostitution, narcotics trafficking, loan-sharking, and suspect junket and VIP gaming tours.

“International experts and observers note that the Philippine casino industry is a weak link in the country’s AML/CFT (anti-money laundering/combating the financing of terrorism) regime,” it said.

It also took note of the findings of the Global Financial Integrity that ranked the Philippines eighth in the world with regard to illicit outflows primarily due to abusive trade mis-invoicing, a form of trade-based money laundering.

The report also said the Anti-Money Laundering Council, throughout 2015, continued its efforts to amend the Anti-Money Laundering Law (Amla) to include casinos, but was hampered by politics.

“Progress has been slow as national elections near and because of extensive lobbying from the casino industry. Considering unsuccessful attempts in the past, the inclusion of casinos under the Philippines’ AML/CFT regime may not occur absent sustained international pressure,” it said.

It also noted that Congress did not approve the inclusion of real-estate agents in the expanded list of covered institutions under the amendments to the Amla. It is thought that the high end of the country’s booming property development sector also caters to foreigners who may be laundering money.

Leni for amendment

Camarines Sur Rep. Leni Robredo on Saturday said she agreed that the country’s tough bank secrecy law should be amended to prevent criminal syndicates from using the Philippines to launder dirty money.

“From the start, I have been campaigning for the bank secrecy law to be eased up because while the primary purpose of it is to protect the depositors, it’s being used to cover up wrongdoing,” Robredo, a vice-presidential candidate of the ruling Liberal Party, said while campaigning in Santa Rosa, Laguna province.

Robredo, who who attended a “Zumba for Leni” event organized by Santa Rosa Mayor Arlene Arcillas and Laguna Rep. Dan Fernandez, said individuals seeking elective posts should show the way by making available details of their banks deposits to the public.

“While the law has yet to be relaxed, I think it’s incumbent upon us candidates to issue an authorization allowing the public to scrutinize our bank records once we filed our COCs (certificates of candidacy),” she said. With a report from Marlon Ramos

RELATED STORIES

Casinos amenable to inclusion in AMLA

$81-M laundering bolsters need to amend AMLA


INQUIRER

Binay’s law firm belies Inquirer report on sending P100M to HK By: Yuji Vincent Gonzales @YGonzalesINQ INQUIRER.net 07:07 PM March 17th, 2016

LAW OFFICE SAYS AMLC REPORT A ‘SMEAR CAMPAIGN, MALICIOUS RETALIATION’


Presidential candidate Vice President Jejomar Binay. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO/LYN RILLON

The law firm of Vice President Jejomar Binay on Thursday belied the banner story of the Philippine Daily Inquirer on the Anti-Money Laundering (AMLC) report that it sent more than P100 million to Hong Kong using the same remittance company involved in the alleged laundering of $81 million from the Bank of Bangladesh.

Binay’s law office, the law firm of Subido Pagente Certeza Mendoza and Binay (SPCMB), through lawyer Claro Certeza dismissed the AMLC report as a “pathetic attempt” to supposedly divert public attention to the alleged money laundering scheme being investigated by the Senate blue ribbon committee.

READ: Binay sent P100M to HK via Philrem

“Today’s screaming headline in the Philippine Daily Inquirer is but a pathetic attempt to divert and diminish public attention to the most embarrassing scandal of all—the inefficiency and ineptitude of the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) and the present administration to prevent the US$81.0 million money laundering involving the foreign reserved funds of the government of Bangladesh,” Certeza said in a statement.

“By allowing itself to be used as a political tool to harass and persecute those opposing the current administration, the AMLC ignored its mandate to address the serious money laundering cases being brazenly committed by international crime syndicates in the Philippines,” he added.

Citing a 62-page AMLC report, the Inquirer on Thursday reported that Philrem Service Corp. facilitated the dispatch of various amounts to Citibank in Hong Kong for Three Star Phil, a firm in the British Virgin Islands that was allegedly an investor in a Binay dummy company, in October 2014.

The Senate on Tuesday heard testimony that Philrem had converted $81 million that computer hackers diverted from the Bangladesh central bank to the Philippines into pesos.

Certeza said the AMLC report manifested the agency’s “inefficiency and ineptitude” by failing to keep the confidentiality of all reports and proceedings under the Anti-Money Laundering Act, noting that a gag order was issued by a Manila regional trial court pending resolution of a civil forfeiture case.

“AMLC allowed the Philippine Daily Inquirer to print several articles involving its dubious report that is replete with lies, half-truths, misleading statements and allegations that have since been retracted by the AMLC,” the lawyer said.

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However, Certeza denied the report, saying that no transactions involved Binay.

“However, notwithstanding said gag order and statutory rule on confidentiality, we can categorically state that NONE of the bank transactions mentioned in the libelous article of the Philippine Daily Inquirer involve the Vice President. The Vice President is but one of many other clients of the SPCMB law offices,” Certeza said.

“Moreover, the alleged transactions of the SPCMB law office are but parts of legitimate business activities duly reported to several government agencies where the services of the SPCMB law offices were engaged,” he added.

READ: UNA belies reports on Philrem, law firm

The AMLC report said Martin Subido, Binay’s partner in the law firm, opened a bank account at a Banco de Oro (BDO) branch with an initial deposit of $2,449,054.18, which came from BDO Account No. 1001140217126 of Daniel Subido, Martin’s brother. The report said there were big transactions in the SPCMB US dollar account.

The report added that accounts of Binay and his alleged dummies disbursed amounts to Philrem’s account with BDO and that SPCMB made two telegraphic transfers to Three Star Capital Limited in Hong Kong.

Citing “undisputed facts,” Certeza said the Inquirer’s “screaming headlines” about the AMLC report was part of a “smear campaign” and “malicious retaliation against Binay and his law firm. “While this may still be an objective of the malicious article and extra-ordinary coverage being given to it by other media outfits, there appears to be a more sinister motive at play…. a possible [cover-up] to hide a scandal so big that it affects those in the current administration and its not so secret candidate,” he said.

The lawyer alleged that an AMLC member and Senate President Franklin Drilon were connected to the law firm representing the AMLC chairman in the P200-million libel case filed by Binay and the same law firm representing the bank and its officials at the center of the $81-million money laundering.

“Clearly, the article of the Philippine Daily Inquirer resurrecting issues based allegedly on a purported AMLC report, which may have been issued more than five (5) months ago and the subject of the gag order, is a desperate attempt to mislead the public,” Certeza said.

“Knowing the Philippine Daily Inquirer’s utter contempt for and its role in the demolition by public perception of Vice President Binay, this is not surprising anymore. Sadly, the newspaper has adopted the policy of sensationalism at the expense of truth,” he added.

Casting doubt on the existence of the said report, United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) president Tobias “Toby” Tiangco said there was not enough basis to claim that Binay was involved in the transactions and urged AMLC authorities to step forward and confirm the veracity of the report.


TIANGCO

“Unang-una, masyado nang pilit yang istorya na iyan. Kasi yung SPCMB, madami namang kliyente yung law firm na iyan so hindi natin alam kung kanino yung pondo na inilipat nila supposedly. Number two, yung money changer, I would assume marami ring kliyente iyan. So hindi naman pu-pwedeng because of those things ay sasabihin na nating e konektado iyan,” Tiangco told reporters at the Coconut Palace.

(First of all, that story has been used before. SPCMB has many clients so we wouldn’t know who owns the fund that law firm is supposedly transferring. Second, I would assume that the money changer [company] also has many clients. So it wouldn’t be appropriate to assume that these are connected because of those things.)

“Pangalawang pagkakataon na rin ito na nangyari at hinihingi ko ulit yung AMLC to confirm or deny if there is such a report at sabihin kung totoo yung sinasabi nung dyaryo. So sa tingin ko para matapos na ang lahat ng ito, ang pinakamabuti magsalita yung AMLC,” he added.

(This is the second time it happened that’s why I’m requesting the AMLC to confirm or deny if there is such a report and it should say whether the newspaper story is true. So I think, to put an end to this, AMLC should speak up [on the matter].)

The AMLC report said Binay received billions of pesos in kickbacks through dummies when he was still Makati mayor from various infrastructure projects, notably the Makati City Hall Building II and the Makati City Science High School building. Part of that money allegedly went to the Hong Kong bank. RAM

READ: What went before: Makati City Hall Building II probe

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ALSO FROM THE MANILA STANDARD

Binay, Duterte in mud fight posted March 19, 2016 at 12:01 am by Vito Barcelo and Rio N. Araja


Fist against crime. Presidential aspirant Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte clenches his fist as he campaigned in Northern Luzon earlier this month. AFP FILE PHOTO

PRESIDENTIAL candidates Vice President Jejomar Binay and Davao Mayor Rodrigo Duterte flung mud at each other over allegations of corruption as the campaign heated up Friday.

Citing an official audit report, a spokesman for Binay’s United Nationalist Alliance said Duterte could face charges for his role in the misuse of P45.8 million in special education funds that were supposed to help students in Davao City.

“If he really were tough on crime and corruption as he projects himself to be, why were there anomalies committed under his watch?” said UNA spokesman Mon Ilagan, citing a Commission on Audit report that cited irregularities in the use of the education fund.

Duterte’s spokesman Peter Lavińa quickly denied the allegations, dismissing it as a “desperate… but nice try” to take the heat off the vice president.


 Lavińa

“It’s a pity that the camp of Vice President Jejomar Binay’s party is now attempting to paint everyone black out of its desperation to escape the burning allegations of massive corruption hurled against the United Nationalist Alliance standard bearer,” he said.

“We see UNA desperately trying to muddle and confuse the public as it evades the allegations of corruption hounding VP Binay right now,” Lavińa added.

Earlier this week, UNA also used CoA reports to highlight some P7.5 billion in unliquidated fund transfers at the Department of the Interior and Local Government when he was still its secretary.

In October, the Office of the Ombudsman found probable cause to file graft and malversation charges against Binay, his son, ousted mayor Jejomar Erwin Binay Jr, and 22 others over the alleged overpricing of a public building when the vice president was still mayor of Makati.

On Friday, Ilagan said the CoA found that various expenses charged to the Special Education Fund were inconsistent with the provisions of the SEF Act.

The commission said the misuse of funds disadvantaged public school students, who could have benefited from the program.

CoA’s audit of disbursement vouchers, Ilagan said, revealed that Davao City’s public schools had unauthorized expenses charged to SEF, including plane fares of coaches and students, fuel for various vehicles, insurance premiums for vehicles, accident insurance for coaches and students, grocery items, medical supplies, and payment for electricity, water, and telephone bills.

CoA said these expenditures should have been charged against the available funds of the Department of Education as the activities and programs were regular functions of the DepEd.

“If the funds were misappropriated even though the money supposedly didn’t go to his pocket, as chief executive of Davao City, isn’t the mayor still liable for technical malversation?” Ilagan said.

“For someone promising to clean up the entire country within six months, why can’t he ensure the proper use of funds in his city?” the UNA spokesperson added.

QUEZON CITY

On the sidelines of Duterte’s campaign sortie in Novaliches, Quezon City, his spokesman Lavińa maintained the mayor’s innocence, saying that the issue had already been raised and answered las year.

“There is nothing new here. This is an old information made to appear fresh. I would say, this is a worthless piece of information. But, really, nice try,” Lavińa said.

“Based on the information I received from the Department of Education, the questioned funds were used for the promotion of physical education programs, which is allowed under the law.”

Under the SEF Act, funds can be used to improve school facilities, print and buy books, pay wages of teachers, grant scholarships and promote physical education programs, he said.

“The funds were used to send athletes and their coaches to sporting events across the country. These programs are basically designed to promote physical education programs. What’s wrong with that?” Lavińa said.

No single case has been filed against Duterte and the other city officials in connection with Binay’s accusations, he said.

“Unlike Binay who is saddled with corruption cases, nothing was filed against Duterte,” he said.


PHILSTAR

Senators want casinos covered by Anti-Money Laundering Act By Patricia Lourdes Viray (philstar.com) | Updated March 17, 2016 - 11:18am 3 47 googleplus0 1


The Senate Blue Ribbon Committee, chaired by Sen. Teofisto “TG” Guingona III, will resume its inquiry into the reported laundering of $81 million that suspiciously went through the country’s financial system, including local casinos. Senate/Released

MANILA, Philippines — Senators have stressed the need to include casinos in the coverage of the Anti-Money Laundering Act (AMLA) following the $81-million money laundering issue.

The money laundering issue involves funds allegedly hacked from the Bank of Bangladesh in the United States, and which reportedly entered the Philippine financial system. The funds were reportedly transferred to accounts of major casino players and were used to "buy chips" or "pay for casino losses."

Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago said that the country risks becoming the world's money laundering capital if the casino sector remains outside the coverage of the AMLA.

The Philippines is currently under the "grey list" of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), a global body that monitors and tries to prevent money laundering and terrorist financing. According to its website, the Paris-based group comes up with policy recommendations to combat "threats to the integrity of the international financial system."

The country will suffer higher financial transaction costs if it gets blacklisted by the FATF, Santiago said.

Senate President Franklin Drilon said that the next president must have strong political will to amend the AMLA and include casinos in its coverage.

READ MORE...

Sen. Juan Edgardo "Sonny" Angara said in an interview with radio dzMM that art dealers may also be included in the AMLA if it gets amended.

"Narinig ko si chairman po ng bank and financial committee, si Senator (Serge) Osmeńa, ang sabi niya pati yung mga nagbebenta ng art, yung art dealer. Iyon din ang isang paraan, although hindi daw kasing-laki yung mga halaga kung ikukumpara sa mga casino na malalaki ang halaga," Angara said.

Meanwhile, Sen. Ralph Recto said that he Senate needs to uncover the connection between the hackers and top officials of the Rizal Commercial Banking Corporation (RCBC) to resolve the $81-million heist.

"Walang duda na may napakalaking sindikato na sangkot dito. Maliwanag din na may koneksyon ang mga hackers sa bangko at kailangan natin malaman kung sino ang koneksyon nila sa RCBC," Recto said in an interview with radio dzMM on Wednesday.

Recto is one of the senators supporting the request of Rizal Commercial Banking Corp. (RCBC) branch manager Maia Santos-Deguito to testify in an executive session before the Senate blue ribbon committee. Executive sessions are held behind closed doors and matters discussed there are confidential.

"Her testimony is crucial in identifying all the characters involved in the plot and in connecting the dots to unravel the mystery behind the cyber-heist," Recto said.

Businessman William Go, who has denied owning the RCBC account at the bank branch where Deguito was manager and that was allegedly used to launder the money, has said that his signature was forged on bank documents.

“I vehemently deny these allegations and state for the record that I did not know of, consent to, or participate in the opening of these bank accounts and all the illegal transactions conducted thereon,” he said through counsel.

Go also appeared before the Senate earlier this week to deny involvement in the alleged money laundering.

RCBC has also denied involvement, with president and CEO Lorenzo Tan appearing in the Senate to "[condemn] as malicious and actionable insinuations the top management of the bank knew of and tolerated alleged money laundering activities in one branch." The Senate blue ribbon committee is set to resume its inquiry into the $81-million money laundering issue on Thursday afternoon.

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RELATED FROM PHILSTAR

Palace sees more banking reforms after $81-M heist By Aurea Calica (The Philippine Star) | Updated March 20, 2016 - 12:00am 1 1 googleplus1 1


BSP Governor Amando Tetangco Jr. earlier lamented the bank secrecy law or Republic Act No. 1406 has made the work of the AMLC difficult. Philstar.com/File

MANILA, Philippines – Malacańang expects the $81-million money laundering issue to lead to more reforms in the country’s banking and financial system amid calls from the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) and the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) for the easing of the bank secrecy law.

Presidential Communications Development and Strategic Planning Office Undersecretary Manuel Quezon III said over radio dzRB yesterday the government is definitely working to ensure that there would be transparency in ferreting out the truth and in finding ways to prevent such anomaly from happening again.

But Quezon said the country’s system is generally working, with safeguards in place to protect the financial sector.

The $81 million – owned by the Bank of Bangladesh and stolen by alleged Chinese hackers from the US Federal Reserve Bank – ended up in five accounts in the Rizal Commercial Banking Corp. and in four local casinos.

“Now that the term of the current Congress is ending, the groundwork is being laid for future reforms that will further improve the system,” Quezon said.

“Again, if the people are worried because they are thinking that this gives a negative impression, I think you can see...there will be officials who will be made accountable, especially in the bank affected,” he said.

He added authorities should be credited for acting promptly when information on the apparent crime reached them.

For example, Quezon said the Department of Foreign Affairs facilitated the participation of the ambassador of Bangladesh in the Senate hearing on the matter.

Also during the Senate Blue Ribbon committee hearings on March 15 and 17, businessman William Go denied owning the accounts where part of the stolen money was deposited and hastily withdrawn, Quezon said.

He added the Court of Appeals has already issued a freeze order on the accounts and that the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) has filed a criminal complaint against RCBC Jupiter branch manager Maia Santos-Deguito.

“So, what does this tell us? First of all, we are showing that we are a responsible member of the banking community...When the money came to the Philippines as far as we can tell, our system was shown to work because the alarm bells started ringing...the other countries started calling and in fact, there have been reports that AMLC is working with the Federal Bureau of Investigation and (the) United States (to solve this),” Quezon said.

“We should be aware that the Bangko Sentral is taking this seriously. The AMLC is showing that it is doing its job. The Senate is holding hearings in aid of legislation and in fact the Bangko Sentral and the BIR have been giving their recommendations,” he added.

“Of course the recommendations from the Bangko Sentral are not very specific at the moment. The Bangko Sentral, as far as I know, mentioned that the rules must be tightened but they have not come out with specific amendments that they want,” Quezon pointed out.

He said recommendations would have to be specific since the BIR also wanted the bank secrecy law eased to improve tax collections.

Bank officials under probe by the Senate Blue Ribbon committee have consistently invoked the bank secrecy law to avoid being grilled by senators on the issue.

BSP Governor Amando Tetangco Jr. earlier lamented the bank secrecy law or Republic Act No. 1406 has made the work of the AMLC difficult.

--------------------------------------------

ALSO FROM ABS-CBN

$81-M bank heist may be biggest in Asia: Int’l consultant ABS-CBN News Posted at 03/16/16 1:09 PM 230


SCREENGRAB...VWATCH IDEO BELOW

Doctor Stephen Cutler, an international consultant on anti-money laundering, said the alleged $81 million money laundering scam may be the biggest fraud of its kind in Asia’s banking history.

"It's huge; I think it ranks at the top, if not near the top, with the amount of money and the ease with which it took place. There were a number of things though that we also need to keep in mind is that it was discovered, it was found. What I really worry about is there are heists of this scale that we don't yet know," Cutler said.

While there is no perfect banking security system, Cutler said there is always room for improving security.

READ: How AMLC got wind of $81-M cyber heist

Cutler noted weak controls in the banking system from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York to the Bangladesh Central Bank to RCBC, allowed the heist to happen.

"There's a system of international money transfers called SWIFT and the SWIFT codes are electronic handshakes and so on that allow money to be moved internationally and electronically so that the computers at the Federal Reserve Bank in New York and there were some banks, Deutsche Bank I think was also involved, and in the banks in the Philippines. Once those electronic codes all match what the systems believe are supposed to be correct, then the transaction happens, and that allows billions of transactions to happen everyday and that was the key. Somehow, folks got these electronic codes from the bank in Bangladesh and that's what we're still not clear on, how that happened," he explained.

READ MORE...

Cutler said the latest scandal shows the need to correct loopholes in the Philippines’ Anti-Money Laundering Act.

He added bank secrecy laws need to be reviewed to facilitate investigations on dirty money.

On Tuesday, Philippine Senate began a probe on the supposed money laundering scheme.

Personalities at the center of the controversy include RCBC Jupiter branch manager Maia Santos-Deguito, who have invoked her right against self incrimination.

Earlier, Deguito tagged an RCBC president's 'friend' in the laundering scandal.

At the Senate inquiry, however, RCBC President Lorenzo Tan has denied involvement.

-ANC's Dateline Philippines, March 16, 2016

 


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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