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Bangladesh seeks money from Philippines

Bangladesh has said the Philippines must immediately return millions of dollars recovered from the hacking theft. The demand was made by the country’s ambassador to the Philippines, but the authorities there said resolving the high profile case could take months. The hackers had shifted $81 million from Bangladesh central bank’s account with the US Federal Reserve on 5 February to a bank in Manila, from where it was further channelled to local casinos. Authorities in Manila said they have tracked down all but $21 million of the loot, but have only recovered a fraction of it. Manila-based Chinese casino promoter Kim Wong, who is under criminal investigation after a portion of the stolen money was traced to his account, began handing over chunks of the stolen cash to Filipino authorities. Bangladesh’s ambassador to Manila, John Gomes, said it is surprising that the surrendered funds – totalling $15 million – had not been returned to Dhaka, nearly two months later. Philippine law exempts casino transactions from scrutiny by the country’s anti-money laundering council without a case filed in court. Wong, the casino operator, had earlier told the Senate that two high-rollers from Beijing and Macau shifted the $81 million to dollar accounts at Manila’s Rizal Commercial Banking Corporation. He said he did not know that the money was stolen from Bangladesh and that he merely helped the two men – who are also his casino clients – open bank accounts.

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