RCBC unfazed by possible Bangladesh central bank case

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, February 1) — Yuchengco-led Rizal Commercial Banking Corporation (RCBC) is facing a possible suit in a U.S. court over the multimillion-dollar Bangladesh central bank heist three years ago.

In a statement attached to its disclosure to the stock exchange, the RCBC said while it has yet to be officially notified of the case by the Bank of Bangladesh, it has hired U.S.-based law firm Quinn Emanuel for its defense.

Its lead counsel, U.S.-based attorney Tai-Heng Cheng, said that the complaint was completely baseless.

"If the Bank of Bangladesh was serious about recovering the money, they would have pursued their claims three years ago and not wait until days before the statute of limitations," the lawyer was quoted as saying in the statement, adding that the case was nothing but a "political stunt."

The lawyer also said the Bank of Bangladesh has no right to file the case in the U.S. since none of the defendants from RCBC are based in that country.

"RCBC had nothing to do with the theft of the funds and has cooperated fully with every instigation into the matter. This suit is nothing more than a blatant attempt by Bangladesh Bank to shift blame and cover up their own liability," RCBC's lawyer said.

READ: Bangladesh bank heist: Makati court finds ex-RCBC manager guilty of money laundering

On January 10, the Makati Regional Trial Court Branch 149 found former RCBC manager Maia Deguito guilty of money laundering.

RCBC's Jupiter Makati branch, where Deguito served as a manager, allegedly processed the money stolen by Chinese hackers from the Bangladesh government through the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

In February 2016, hackers breached the Bangladesh Bank systems to steal the credentials. A total of $101 million was stolen--$21 million of which went to Sri Lankan accounts while $81 million ended up in the Philippines. The $81 million involved in the bank heist was later withdrawn, converted to pesos, then gambled in a number of casinos in the Philippines before authorities could track it.

Deguito, who was sentenced to four to seven years imprisonment for each of the eight counts of money laundering and a fine of $103 million, has a pending appeal for her conviction.

READ: Ex-RCBC manager Maia Deguito appeals conviction