Rizal Bank CEO Quits to Take Responsibility on Bangladesh Heist Case in Philippines

  • Internal probe clears CEO of involvement in $81 million heist
  • Chairman Helen Dee to oversee bank until replacement appointed

Rizal Commercial Banking Corp. President and Chief Executive Officer Lorenzo Tan resigned to take “moral responsibility” for the Philippine lender’s involvement in the $81 million laundering of Bangladesh reserves.

His resignation came even as an internal investigation by the lender cleared him from any wrongdoing in relation to the banking heist. Rizal Bank’s board accepted the resignation with regrets, the company said in a statement. Chairman Helen Dee will oversee the bank operations until a replacement is appointed, it said.

Lorenzo Tan
Lorenzo Tan
Photographer: Noel Celis/AFP via Getty Images

The exit of Tan, who led the bank since 2007, follows the resignation of Treasurer Raul Tan last month amid the Philippine Senate’s investigation on the money stolen from Bangladesh that were transferred to Rizal Bank accounts. The funds disappeared after being withdrawn and cashed out via the country’s casino industry. The two men aren’t related.

“Despite having been cleared of any wrongdoing, as president and CEO of RCBC, I take full moral responsibility for this sad incident in the history of the bank,” Lorenzo Tan, who has been on leave since March to clear his name, said in a separate statement.

Shares Fall

Rizal Bank shares has fallen 8.5 percent this year, compared with a 0.6 gain in the benchmark Philippine stock index.

The Philippine central bank is also conducting its own probe, which will be completed by early May. Financial institutions found to have broken rules will be penalized, the regulator had said.

About $15 million of the stolen Bangladesh foreign reserves have been recovered, while another 108.7 million pesos ($2.3 million) confiscated from a group of Chinese gamblers in March will be surrendered upon a court order.

The Philippine Senate’s Blue Ribbon Committee, which took a break after the sixth hearing on April 19, is expected to resume the investigation after the country’s May 9 general elections.

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