President of Philippine bank at center of $81 million heist quits

Lorenzo Tan, president and chief executive officer of the Rizal Commercial Banking Corp (RCBC), gestures while answering questions during the money laundering hearing at Senate in Manila March 29, 2016.  REUTERS/Romeo Ranoco

The Philippines’ Rizal Commercial Banking Corp said it has accepted the resignation of its president, Lorenzo Tan, even as it cleared the official of any wrongdoing in connection with a $81 million money laundering scandal.

The resignation, which was submitted last week, took effect on Friday.

RCBC is at the center of a Senate investigation into a cyber heist in which $81 million was stolen from the Bangladesh central bank’s account at the U.S. Federal Reserve Bank of New York and allegedly deposited in one of its branches.

“I take full moral responsibility for this sad incident in the history of the bank,” Tan said in a statement.

Bank chairwoman Helen Dee will oversee operations as president and CEO until a new president is appointed. RCBC, partly owned by a unit of Cathay Financial Holding Co Ltd, is the country’s ninth largest lender in asset terms.

“An internal investigation into the alleged $81 million money laundering had cleared Tan of any breach of bank rules and policies,” RCBC said in a statement.

The Philippine Senate on May 17 resumes its probe into how the stolen money ended up with casinos and gambling operators in Manila.

The investigation has led to the recovery of around $15 million from a Chinese casino boss and junket operator.

The probe has been hamstrung by strict banking secrecy laws and anti-money laundering legislation that does not cover casinos and cannot compel them to disclose information.