Bangladesh Ambassador says Duterte promised to “do whatever it takes” to return $81 million

  • Bangladeshi Ambassador John Gomes said President Duterte assured him that the Philippines will “do whatever it takes” in order to return the $81 million laundered funds
  • Gomes also revealed that he has spoken to the senators to restart the investigation regarding the matter
  • Gomes also met with officials of the DOJ, the PAGCOR, the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) and the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas who all, in turn, assured him that investigations are ongoing regarding the matter

MANILA, Philippines – Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte assured Bangladesh Ambassador John Gomes that Philippines will “do whatever it takes” in order to return the $81 million laundered funds.

“He has expressed to me personally, he said that he will do whatever it takes (to hasten the recovery of the $81 million),” Gomes said on Tuesday during a media roundtable event in Makati City.

Jon Viktor D. Cabuenas mentioned in his article for GMA News that the Bangladeshi ambassador asked help from Duterte when they met last June 4 when the elected president celebrated his victory for the May presidential election.

“I have a very big request. Of course, through the DFA (Department of Foreign Affairs) that the newly-elected President would be visiting Bangladesh. He said yes, definitely he would look forward to that,” Gomes said.

Hackers stole $81 million from the account of the Bangladesh Bank at the New York Federal Reserve Bank in New York, and then transferred the accounts to the Rizal Commercial Banking Corp.’s (RCBC) Jupiter branch in Makati.

During an investigation of the Senate through its Blue Ribbon Committee, it was revealed that while the majority of the funds have already been traced, some $17 million still remains to be unaccounted for.

With this, Gomes said that Bangladesh is “very optimistic” that the whole $81 million will be returned to the country but accepted that this may take a while.

“I don’t believe that this money is not recoverable because the Senate… they were able to identify where is the money. We have to leave it to the government to recover the amount also as they have done the $15 million,” Gomes said, but noted that “it will take some time.”

Gomes was referring to the $15 million surrendered by casino junket operator Kam Sin “Kim” Wong to the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC). Wong claimed that he received the funds supposedly as payment of debts, and investments.

An article by Chrisee Dela Paz for Rappler said Gomez confirmed that the $15 million surrendered by Wong and along with $2.75 million which has been frozen by Solaire Resort and Casino, is set to be returned to Bangladesh “very, very soon.”

Gomes also revealed that he has spoken to the senators to restart the probe regarding the matter.

“I am very confident that we should be having another hearing when we know who is the next Senate President and who is the Chairman of the Blue Ribbon Committee,” he said.

Aside from Duterte’s assurance, Gomes also met with officials of the Department of Justice (DOJ), the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (PAGCOR), the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) and the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas) who all, in turn, assured him that investigations are ongoing regarding the matter.

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