Bangladesh envoy pleased with Senate hearing on stolen USD81-M fund

MANILA, Philippines – Bangladesh Ambassador to the Philippines John Gomes has expressed contentment with the way the Philippine Senate has been conducting inquiry into the USD 81 million stolen from Bangladesh Bank at the New York deposit account and wired to fraudulent accounts in the Philippines.

”We are pleased with what the Senate is doing. It’s very transparent as far as I’m concern because it’s informative. We are actually very optimistic with the way the hearing is going on and it is very transparent. So, I think it is going to the right direction,” Gomes said in media interview.

Gomes attended the last three Senate blue ribbon committee public hearings where senators have been trying to trace how the stolen money entered the Philippines through the Rizal Commercial Banking Corporation (RCBC).

During the hearing, businessman and junket operator Kim Wong denied hand in the USD 81 million heist, saying two foreigners brought in the “huge” money to the Philippines through RCBC.

Wong said Sua Hua Gao from Beijing and Ding Xi Xie from Macao transferred the USD81 million to the Philippines with the help of RCBC Jupiter branch manager Maia Santos Deguito who failed to show up on Tuesday due to health problems.

Wong said USD63 million of the total USD81 million went to the Solaire and Midas casinos while the remaining USD17 million is still with the Philrem Service Corporation, a remittance company used to convert the stolen funds into peso.

Michael Bautista of PhilRem denied Wong’s claim.

Wong said he picked up a total of Php400 million and USD5 million on three separates dates (Feb. 9, 10 and 14) from Michael ‘Con-con’ Bautista’s house.

Wong has expressed willingness to cooperate in recovering at least USD 5 million and he will also return the Php450 million which Gao paid to him “if they want me to do it.”

”We are very hopeful that we should get back our money. That is our expectation,” Gomes said in reaction to Wong’s testimony.

Gomes said the Bangladesh government is working with the US government as well as with the Philippine government “to see how we can work together.”

Gomes said he was also pleased that the PhilRem remittance company expressed willingness to return the Php10 million it earned as handling fee of the USD 81 million.

The Bangladesh envoy said he got information that they were trying to reach out Sri Lankan government on how the USD 20 million of the total stolen USD 101 million was saved and “yet the one that came to the Philippines was not frozen and why even after our Bangladesh Bank governor talked to the bank governor here.

”And before that, as a matter of fact, we have come to know that Federal Reserve, they have also contacted the Philippines to freeze the money,” Gomes told the media. PNA/