CA denies AMLC plea on bank accounts linked to Bank of Bangladesh heist
MANILA, Philippines — The Court of Appeals (CA) has denied the petition of the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) to retain the asset preservation order (APO) issued by a Manila court against the bank accounts of companies and individuals that were allegedly used to funnel funds that form part of the US$81 million stolen by hackers from the Bank of Bangladesh in 2016.
In a 32-page decision penned by Associate Justice Fernanda Lampas Peralta, the appeals court’s Second Division said there is no grave abuse of discretion on the part of the Manila Regional Trial Court (RTC) when it ruled in favor of Eastern Hawaii Leisure Co. Ltd. and owner Kam Sin Wong, QiaQiao Wendy Wang, and Dong Na Xu’s motions’ to discharge APO covering their frozen accounts.
The court reminded the AMLC that the case is still pending before the Manila court when it argued that there is “probable cause” to retain the APO.
“That case is the proper proceeding to ventilate the issue of whether there is probable cause that private respondents’ bank accounts were related to the unlawful activity of hacking, among others,” the appeals court said.
The CA then instructed the Manila RTC to resolve with dispatch and to consolidate the civil forfeiture cases filed against Eastern Hawaii Leisure Co. Ltd and Kam (AMLC Case No. 16- 003-53) and QiaoQiao Wendy Wang, Dong Na Xu, and Eastern Hawaii Leisure Co. Ltd (AMLC Case No. 17-001-53).
In October 2019, the lower court granted the motions to discharge the APOs for AMLC’s failure to provide proof that their bank accounts were opened only for the purpose of receiving funds from the hacked Bangladesh Bank account.
The RTC in Manila also noted that AMLC failed to provide evidence that it has conspired with Philrem Service Corporation to commit an unlawful activity and that it had prior knowledge that the P1 billion remitted by Philrem belongs to the Bangladesh Bank.
The lower court added that AMLC also failed to prove that the unreturned funds by Eastern Hawaii and Kam were lost in a casino junket.
It further said that Kam has no pending case for violating the Anti-Money Laundering Act.
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