Makati court junks RCBC defamation suit vs Bangladesh central bank

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The Makati Regional Trial Court dismissed for lack of jurisdiction the defamation suit filed by Yuchengco-led Rizal Commercial Banking Corp. (RCBC) against the Bank of Bangladesh in connection with the $81-million cyber heist in 2016.

In an order dated June 30, the Makati Court dismissed the suit and demand for damages, saying it has no authority over the defendant, which it described as a “foreign public corporation not doing business in the Philippines.”

The ruling explained there was no provision, both in the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure and the 2019 Rules of Procedure, for summoning the Bank of Bangladesh.

“The foregoing discussions inescapably lead to the conclusion that this court has no jurisdiction over the person of the defendant [Bangladesh Bank], nor will it ever have within the limits of the provisions of the present rules as regards summons and the service thereof,” the court said.

RCBC and its sales director, Ismael Reyes, filed the defamation suit in 2019, accusing Bangladesh Bank of 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.”

Bangladesh Bank had filed prior cases to recover $81 million in stolen funds, which was allegedly lost to North Korean hackers.

Some of the funds were allowed to be transacted via correspondent banks in New York before being wired to fictitious accounts with RCBC. The money was withdrawn and later disappeared.

P1-B fine

The embarrassing incident prompted the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas to slap RCBC with a record P1-billion fine in 2016 after a special investigation was completed.

In 2019, former RCBC branch manager Maia Deguito was found guilty of eight counts of money laundering related to the heist.

That same year, the Department of Justice filed a money laundering case against other RCBC officials before the Makati court.

These included Reyes and other RCBC Retail Banking Group executives such as Raul Victor Tan, its former head, regional sales director Brigitte Capiña, customer service head Romualdo Agarrado and senior customer relationship officer Angela Ruth Torres.

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