MANILA - The central bank's decision to slap Rizal Commercial Banking Corp. (RCBC) with a record P1-billion fine sends a strong signal to the international community that the Philippines is serious in curbing money laundering, the head of one of the country's largest lenders said Friday.
At the same time, Bank of the Philippine Islands (BPI) President and CEO Cezar Consing lauded RCBC for its commitment to pay up. The fine is enough to wipe out nearly 40 percent of the bank's net income in the first six months of the year.
"RCBC fine is a big one. I don't ever recall it being that large... It keeps the balance of credibility... shows the world we're serious our financial industry is stable," Consing told ANC's "The Boss" in an exclusive interview.
"It's a big boy move, big boy fine, and it's good RCBC acted like a big boy too, didn't take it to court and just said we'll pay up the fine," it said.
Consing said he was in favor of amendments to bank secrecy laws to prevent similar events from happening.
"We have tougher bank secrecy laws unlike most other places. Because of our strict laws, we protected the bad guy. Amending that law is key."
The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) imposed the record penalty after its investigation on RCBC's role in the shifting of $81 million from Bangladesh's foreign reserves to four accounts in its Makati branch, then to several casinos where most of the money disappeared.
Bangladesh's envoy to the Philippines, John Gomes, said he was holding RCBC responsible for failing to stop the release of the money despite several requests from the New York Federal Reserve, where the money was first kept.