RCBC sues Bangladesh bank for damage to reputation over $81-M heist

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, March 12) — The Rizal Commercial Banking Corporation (RCBC) has filed a defamation case against the central bank of Bangladesh for "baseless allegations" in connection with the $81-million bank heist in 2016.

In a press release Tuesday, the Yuchengco-led RCBC said it filed the complaint last March 6 at the Makati Regional Trial Court, accusing the Bangladesh Bank of "vicious and public attack" of its reputation.

"It is public knowledge that Bangladesh Bank has embarked on a massive ploy and scheme to extort money from plaintiff RCBC by resorting to public defamation, harassment and threats geared towards destroying RCBC's good name, reputation, and image, all with the intention of getting RCBC to pay Bangladesh Bank money that RCBC does not have in its custody or possession and which it does not owe to Bangladesh Bank," the RCBC said.

Reports in February said the Bangladesh Bank filed a case against RCBC in a U.S. court over its alleged involvement in the multimillion-dollar bank heist.

RCBC denied any hand in the theft, saying the suit "is nothing more than a political stunt to try to shift blame from themselves to RCBC."

"Bangladesh Bank had lost the US $81 Million the minute it left defendant Bangladesh Bank's account at the NY Fed (Federal Reserve Bank of New York) and way before it had even reached the Philippines…. there is absolutely no act attributable to RCBC that caused the payment instructions to reach the NY Fed and the Correspondent Banks," RCBC's complaint read.

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 The $81 million involved in the bank heist was later withdrawn, converted to pesos, then gambled in a number of casinos in the Philippines before authorities could track it.

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.

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.