Court dismisses defamation suit vs Bank of Bangladesh

The Makati Regional Trial Court (RTC) has dismissed a defamation suit against the Bank of Bangladesh filed by the Rizal Commercial Banking Corp. (RCBC) for linking it to the most extensive banking scam in the world.

In an order promulgated last 30 June and made available by the Makati RTC Branch 142, Judge Rainald C. Paggao dismissed the suit and granted a motion for reconsideration filed by the Bank of Bangladesh last 28 October.

“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.

The court also said, “RCBC’s notion that extraterritorial service of summons may be undertaken against Bangladesh Bank has no legal leg (to) stand on,” as the court reconsidered its earlier orders dated 19 July 2019 and 18 October 2020

Atty. Jose Bernas was the lawyer of the Bank of Bangladesh in the said case.

Aside from RCBC, the bank’s National Sales director Ismael Reyes also accused the Bangladeshi bank of having repeatedly “called for press conferences, repeatedly perpetrated injustice and have maligned, defamed and engaged in tortious conduct in the Philippines” shortly after the 2016 incident involving $81 million theft from the Bangladesh Bank.

The sums landed in several Philippine accounts under the names of Michael Cruz ($6 million), Jessie Christopher Lagrosas ($30 million), Alfred Vergara ($20 million), and Enrico Vasquez ($25 million) despite stop-payment requests from the Bangladesh Bank.

In a disclosure to the Securities and Exchange Commission on 11 January 2021, RCBC said that on 27 May 2020, the Bangladesh Bank filed a complaint before the Supreme Court of New York concerning the incident.

Anti-money laundering charges were filed by the Department of Justice against five executives of RCBC in connection with the USD81-million cyber heist at the Bank of Bangladesh three years ago.

Facing charges for violation of the Anti-Money Laundering Act (AMLA) before the Makati RTC are RCBC Retail Banking Group treasurer Raul Victor Tan, national sales director for retail banking Ismael Reyes, regional sales director Brigitte Capiña, customer service head for its Jupiter business center Romualdo

Prosecutors cited the “willful blindness doctrine” as “the deliberate avoidance or knowledge of a crime, especially by failing to make a reasonable inquiry about suspected wrongdoing, despite being aware that it is highly probable.”

Earlier, RCBC Jupiter Branch Manager Maia Santos-Deguito was found guilty of seven counts of violation of the AMLA.

A penalty of up to seven years imprisonment was slapped by the Makati RTC Branch 149 Judge Cesar Untalan for each count and was required to pay not more than 200 percent of the value of the laundered amount or almost USD110 million.

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