Bangladesh heist: Philippine bank chief on indefinite leave

MANILA • Rizal Commercial Banking Corp (RCBC) president Lorenzo Tan has gone on indefinite leave of absence in the wake of the Philippine government probe into a US$81 million (S$110.7 million) heist from the Bangladesh central bank.

The money was siphoned by cyber attackers on Feb 5 with RCBC's Makati branch used as the gateway.

In a meeting yesterday, RCBC board accepted Mr Tan's leave request.

"Tan insisted on taking leave to allow him to focus on clearing his name in the money laundering issue a board committee is investigating," RCBC said in a statement.

In a separate statement, Mr Tan's lawyer, Mr Francis Lim, said: "Earlier this week, my client asked again the RCBC board to let him go on leave. This was to avoid any perception of any undue influence on his part in the ongoing internal investigation on the matter. It would also give him more time to address baseless personal attacks against him."

Meanwhile, United States Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, has said that she wants a probe into the Bangladesh bank heist, which went through an account at the New York Federal Reserve Bank.

"We need a thorough investigation to determine how these criminals were able to manipulate the system so that banks and financial institutions can institute standards that will prevent hackers and cyber criminals from siphoning money out of accounts like those held at the New York Fed again," she said in a press statement on Tuesday.

The audacious cyber theft has embarrassed the Bangladesh government, triggered outrage in the impoverished country and raised alarm over the security of its foreign exchange reserves of more than US$27 billion (S$37 billion).

REUTERS, INQUIRER/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 24, 2016, with the headline 'Bangladesh heist: Philippine bank chief on indefinite leave'. Print Edition | Subscribe