Stolen $41m from central bank went to casino junket man

A Chinese casino junket operator received more than US$30 million (S$41 million) in cash that hackers stole from the Bangladesh central bank's account with the New York Federal Reserve.

Ms Salud Bautista, president of remittance firm Philrem Service, yesterday told a Senate committee investigating the heist that she and her staff handed over the cash to a Mr Xu Wei Kang from Feb 5 to 13.

The money was part of over US$81 million stolen from the Bangladesh Bank's account in New York.

The hackers tried to withdraw about US$951 million from the account, but the other transactions were blocked after a typo in a recipient's name raised red flags.

Ms Bautista said she delivered the money to Mr Xu, as instructed by the manager of a branch of Philippine lender Rizal Commercial Banking Corp (RCBC).

The manager, Ms Maia Deguito, was at the Senate hearing, but invoked her right not to incriminate herself.

Initial reports showed that the US$81 million stolen from the Bangladesh Bank was transferred to four dormant RCBC accounts on Feb 5 this year.

The money was then consolidated in a single account under the name of local retail tycoon William Go, who testified that the account was not his and that his signature was forged.

From Mr Go's purported account, Philrem transferred US$29 million to a casino owned by Bloomberry Resorts Corp, US$21 million to Eastern Hawaii Leisure, another casino operator, and US$30 million to Mr Xu.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 16, 2016, with the headline 'Stolen $41m from central bank went to casino junket man'. Print Edition | Subscribe