CA affirms unfreezing of 2016 cyberheist accounts
MANILA, Philippines — The Court of Appeals (CA) has again 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 implicated in the $81-million cyberheist from the central bank of Bangladesh in 2016.
In a two-page decision penned by Associate Justice Fernanda Lampas-Peralta, the appeals court’s Former Special Second Division denied AMLC’s motion for reconsideration for lack of merit and reminded the AMLC that the case is still pending before the Manila court where the merits of the case should be clarified.
“Once again, the Court made a careful and judicious study of the merits of the case, in light of the respective arguments of petitioner in its motion for reconsideration of the Court’s Decision dated April 29, 2022, and private respondents in their comment/opposition to the motion. The Court is not swayed to reconsider,” the CA said in a decision promulgated on Aug. 2.
It stressed that the matters raised in the motion have been scrutinized, weighed and passed upon by the Court.
“The motion thus fails to present any new and substantial matter, or any cogent and compelling reason, which would justify reconsideration of the Court’s ruling,” the appellate court added.
In its April 29 decision, the CA said that there was 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, QiaoQiao Wendy Wang, and Dong Na Xu’s motions’ to discharge APO covering their frozen accounts.
“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 Kam Sin Wong, QiaoQiao Wendy Wang, Dong Na Xu, and Eastern Hawaii Leisure.
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.
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