A group of Bangladeshi officials recently paid a visit to the Philippines to collect the US$ 15 million that the government recovered from thieves who hacked into their Central Bank early this year. The amount is part of the US$81 million that the hackers funneled during the Bangladesh bank heist into the Philippine banking system and out through the casinos.
But while the Philippines has come down hard against the bank and its officers, even levying a hefty 1 billion peso fine to make sure something like this never happens again – there are still a few lose ends from the other key players in this fiasco that needs to be tidied up.
Recognizing this, the Duterte administration recently took the first step in trying to get to the bottom of the whole story by asking the Bangladesh government to submit a report from their own investigations. Something that the previous Aquino government never bothered to do.
If we really want to find those responsible, then we have to start at the beginning. And that means asking the Bangladesh government what they know. Unfortunately they have not been very forthcoming and are reluctant to share any information, preferring instead to pass the blame and washing their hands clean of the whole mess.
Another aspect that has not been fully explained are the allegations that there could have been accomplices working on the side of the US Federal Reserve Bank, from which close to a billion dollars of Bangladeshi funds was targeted.
Curiously, while during the early stages there was talk of a lawsuit being filed by the Bangladesh government against the Fed Bank, all this lost steam midway into the investigations. The question is, was there perhaps a deal made where the two most guilty parties decided to gang up on the Philippines?
Aside from the gaping holes on the part of the Bangladesh and American sides, there are also serious questions still remaining about the role and involvement of the casinos, the remittance company, the senators who investigated the whole mess, and the media who selectively focused on certain issues while ignoring other glaring inconsistencies.
So far only the role of the bank has been seriously investigated. But how the money got into their system, or were it went after it got out has been largely ignored.
Is it possible that it is still in the hands of some of the players? Is it possible that it never really left the country? Is it possible that some of it found its way to the war chests of some of our elected officials? All of these are questions that need to be answered.