December 2017
« Nov    

Kaharian ng Kababalaghan

Animals in action; studies and stories of beasts, birds and reptiles; their habits, their homes and their peculiarities (1901) (14568732509)o misteryo yata ang Pilipinas. Tignan ang nangyaring magic tungkol sa Bangko Sentral ng Bangladesh. May napakagaling na artikulo ang isang taga-Singapore tungkol dito (link – basahin sana!) – Pero hindi lang iyon.

  • Napakahigpit ng Bank Secrecy sa Pilipinas mula pa noong 1955 tapos mula pa noong 1974 hindi puwedeng tignan ang mga foreign currency accounts (link – Atty. Laserna).
  • Noong 1990, nagkaroon ng FATF – Financial Action Task Force sa Paris. Na-blacklist ang Pilipinas noong 2000 (link), nagkaroon ng anti money-laundering act (AMLA) noong 2001 (link ulit).
  • Unti-unti itong hinigpitan dahil alanganin pa rin ang katayuan ng Pilipinas noong 2003, tapos noong 2012 ulit – kaya natanggal ang Pilipinas sa “dark gray” list ng FATF (katunayang link).
  • Gusto ng FATF na kasali ang mga casino sa batas, pero ayaw daw ito ng mga casino at ng PAGCOR (link)
  • Iyong pag-alis ng sekreto sa bangko ayaw daw ng iilan sa Kongreso (link na madetalye).

Sa malabong tubig, hindi madaling makita ang mga buwaya. Saan maaring nanggaling ang mga ito?

Paano kaya nagkaganito?

Sa huli kong artikulo (link – basahin sana) nabanggit na kakaunti lang ang humahawak sa kayamanan ng Pilipinas – kahit na marami na ring naging middle class sa mga nakaraang taon.

Sa isang lumang artikulo mula pa noong 1970 (link), maliwanag mag-explain si Senador Ninoy Aquino kung paano nagkaganito, at kung paano ito maaring maging mapanganib para sa bayan:

“When the Americans came, a group of young lawyers started titling lands: this was the beginning of the big estates. Gregorio Araneta, for example, became the lawyer of the Tuason family that claimed this tremendous tract of land from Sampaloc to the Marikina Valley. The original source of the Philippine fortunes was, therefore, land—either Spanish grants, like the Ayala estate, or the acquisitions titled during the 1900s.

“The second generation of Filipino wealth came from government connections.  In the 1920s when Quezon was financing his independence missions, certain people got choice contracts from the government, like the Teodoros of Ang Tibay, the Madrigals of the shipping line.

“Then we have a third generation of millionaires: those who got concessions from government financing institutions, like the sugar barons. The Philippine National Bank was set up and it financed practically the entire sugar-mill construction of the period.  The movement was from Negros Occidental to Iloilo and the sugar barons—the Lopezes, the Javellanas, the Aranetas—started taking over virgin forest.”…

But Senator Aquino sees one great danger: the Filipino who becomes master in Juan’s house may not be Juan de la Cruz himself. Juan may find that the foreign exploiter he kicked out has been replaced by a native one. “The Spanish exile, Salvador de Madariaga, warned that a country can become the colony of its own people.” And the hurt is that it’s Juan’s money that will be used to make him poorer and his master richer. As the taxes that Juan pays to the government too often are used merely to enrich a few politicians, so, in the banking system, the money of the depositors, of the people, may be used merely to capitalize the owners of the banks.

Senator Aquino says that this is already happening.

Kapakanan ng iilang mga may pera at kapangyarihan siguro ang dahilan ng sobrang pagkasekreto ng banking system ng Pilipinas. Huwag naman sana lahat sa kanila, kundi todas na talaga.

Mga epekto nito

Alam na sa abroad na ginagamit na yata ang mga casino at bangko sa Pilipinas para sa kung anu-anong kalokohan. Heto ang sabi raw ng isang report ng US State Department (link ng artikulo):

“Transnational drug trafficking organizations based in East Asia use the existing banking system, casinos, and commercial enterprises to transfer drug proceeds from the Philippines to offshore accounts”

Apektado ang normal na tao rito:

  • baka mapahirap o maging mas mahal ang pag-remit ng pera mula sa abroad kung sakaling ma-blacklist ulit ang Pilipinas
  • baka mahirapang makakuha ng trabaho sa bangko o kung saan ang iilang mga Pilipino gawa ng mabaho nang reputasyon ng bansa

Bukod pa sa bagyo, lindol at hirap sa Pilipinas na alam ng marami, baka maituring pa tayong mga magnanakaw at manloloko sa iilang parte ng mundo. Tama na, nakakahiya na talaga.

Meron bang magagawa?

Maraming imbestigasyon tungkol sa katiwalian na napahamak na ng bank secrecy. Kung legal naman ang kinita kong pera, hindi ako matatakot na malaman ng isang korte ang nasa account ko.

Makakatulong din sa mga imbestigasyon at pagkolekta ng BIR ang pagluwag sa bank secrecy dahil mahihirapan na ang paglusot. Baka maibaba pa ang tax ng mga normal na tao sa bandang huli.

Hindi mawawala ang mga buwaya kung hindi maging maliwanag ang tubig para makita sila. Hindi na siguro dapat iboto sa Senado at Kongreso ang mga dumedepensa pa sa sobrang bank secrecy.

Irineo B. R. Salazar, München, 20 March 2016


15 comments to Kaharian ng Kababalaghan

  • karlgarcia

    “The rather shameful attack on Bangladesh’s central bank system that led to the illegal transfer of $81 million and the eventual disappearance into thin air of most of the money only underscores what many cyber security analysts and experts have been saying for some time now.

    It’s worrying to the point that you ask: If criminals can do this to a central bank, no matter how small the country, who else could be vulnerable? It seems the war against cyber criminals is getting tougher by the day despite all the millions of dollars spent on erecting fire walls and hiring consultants to monitor suspicious attacks.

    In fact, almost all of the big cyber security companies at end of 2015 had come up with very scary predictions of just how vulnerable online life is — and this is just not about banking transactions, but even our personal lives on the popular social media sites like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

    Cyber criminals are growing in number, and getting bolder too. And the worst news is that our cyber security boys, those paid to protect our money and personal information, are finding it difficult to keep ahead of the heists that are sprung on them at a more frequent pace.

    Feeling paranoid
    Does that make you feel paranoid? You should be, especially since the big cyber security companies themselves admit they are losing the war even with all of the intelligence systems they have put up in recent years.

    Today’s boardrooms are increasingly recognizing that the chief intelligence security officer no longer belongs to the technical experts’ pool, but as part of an elite group of business risk leaders that CEOs keep close to their hearts.

    Business ( Article MRec ), pagematch: 1, sectionmatch: 1
    Considering that cyber attacks have infiltrated big mainframes of industrial and even web-based retailing companies, easily anything that uses the Internet nowadays without the right kind of protection will find itself open to sabotage.

    From big companies (a power plant, an air traffic control tower and a retailing firm, to name a few) to the Internet of smaller things (vehicles, home security systems, mobile banking), everything now seems fair game to cyber criminals.

    Even the formerly fail-proof security walls on Apple devices seem to have been breached in several instances last year — first when several show business personalities found their personal social network accounts hacked, and when the United States’ FBI was able to unlock a terrorist’s iPhone.

    Worse, these masterminds of cyber evil are even suspected of working nowadays with terrorist groups. Huge sums of money are paid to steal more money from the system, and then use these stolen funds to finance terrorist activities.

    New risks are emerging nowadays as more businesses, governments and people rely on the Internet to get about with their daily tasks. As the data being stored on mainframes get richer, the temptation by cyber criminals to maneuver classified information to their own advantage becomes greater.

    Cyber security experts and bloggers predict that data stealing and ransom threats will be used for bigger gains. For example, by successfully breaching a power plant’s control systems, criminals will no longer be content with just inducing blackouts, but will use this as a chance to extort money.

    This will be the same for other media that use the Internet. Simply, extortion will play a key role in cyber crimes, from threats to expose personal information to unlocking a car’s mobility to sabotaging Internet-based businesses (like dating services).

    The growing prevalence of malwares that induce unwanted advertisements on smart devices will see the birth of more ad blockers. This may be good for consumers, but not for the advertising industry which has just found new ground for fresh revenue channels.

    Payment systems using smartphones are seen to be exposed to bigger threats, especially as cyber criminals have become more adept at harvesting personal information from banking and retailing systems.

    This is compounded by the fact that consumers continue to observe poor security measures in disclosing their banking and other personal transaction details, and still fall prey to scams and dubious chain letters, and continue clicking malicious links.

    What can be done?
    Clearly, not just on a personal level but for world security (and peace), the wired world needs better protection from the growing army of cyber criminals and others who depend on them to spew terrorism and other forms of crime.

    Certainly, better laws that will support super cyber police and investigative agencies, plus more teeth in going after criminals are needed. The same goes for international cooperation of countries in fortifying the cyber walls of defense and prosecuting those found guilty.

    Companies need to be more aware of the importance of installing updated systems that will be able to monitor in real time breaches in their security systems. Cyber criminal syndicates are becoming more adept at installing worms and waiting, sometimes for months, for the right time to launch their attack.

    The cyber security industry needs to be more proactive in getting ahead of criminals. Block-chain encryption and other forms of better protection are needed to be able to secure information that we consumers entrust banks and other online media.

    Just as there are many program wizards that allow their services to be bought and utilized for criminal activities, there are also those equally, if not better techies that will be able to fight such crimes.”

  • – crackdown starts…

    “By decision of 23 February 2016, the Bank of Italy ordered, pursuant to art. 113, paragraph 1, of the Banking Act, as referred to in art. 114 of the Consolidated Act, the revocation of the provision of the RCBC Telemoney Europe S.P.A. payment services, with headquarters in Rome,” Banca d ’Italia said in Italian in its February 2016 order.

    Meanwhile, BPI Europe Plc has informed its customers that it will close its Rome and Milan branches effective June 1 this year.

  • slightly OT… the waters of the Pasig river used to be very clear…

    Once there was a Chinese man who didn’t believe in the Catholic god. As he was plying the waters of Pasig River one day, the Chinese man spotted a huge crocodile swimming towards his boat. Out of desperation, he prayed to San Nicholas for help. At that very moment, the crocodile turned into stone, and the Chinese man became a believer.

    The Buwayang Bato is just one of many legends born in the historic river. But believe it or not, stories like this often have real-life references.

    True enough, history shows that crocodiles once wreaked havoc on the Pasig River. In his book Relacion de las Islas Filipinas, the Jesuit Fr. Pedro Chirino recounted how a 17th-century Filipino chief grappled with a 36-foot crocodile from the Pasig River.

    The huge freshwater reptile was eventually killed, so was the “smaller” 15-foot monster they also caught and ripped open, revealing the gruesome mix of human bones and heads inside its belly.

    (there is also a story of duck ponds… of course Pateros comes from patos meaning ducks… could it be balut also originally came from there?)


    RCBC President Lorenzo Tan has offered, not to fall on his sword like Atiur Rahman, the beleaguered Bangladesh Central Bank Governor, but to go on leave “to give the bank a free hand in investigating the alleged money laundering issue involving its Jupiter branch in Makati and its branch manager.” According to Atty. Francis Lim, Mr. Tan’s legal counsel, the RCBC is solidly behind Lorenzo Tan: “The bank’s board thanked him for his gentlemanly and decent gesture but said their trust in him is intact and unshaken.”

    But is bank board really behind Mr. Tan? After all, these words were spoken by the legal counsel of Mr. Tan and not by the legal counsel of the bank and its board. The bank, along with a whole host of Philippine and international regulatory officials, is still investigating exactly what happened. It would take months, maybe even years, before this case is resolved. After all, this case put the spotlight on the entire country as one of the money laundering capitals of the world, a financial black hole where else dirty money disappears never to be found again.

    This case has all the elements of a Hollywood blockbuster: robbing a central bank, fake bank accounts, cars full of cash, disappearing cyber experts, and casinos that would dwarf anything conjured up by Danny Ocean. Someday, someone in Hollywood will make a movie out of this great caper…

    Under BSP Circular No. 706, which updates Anti-Money Laundering Rules and Regulations, RCBC is supposed to flag any suspicious transaction, regardless of the amount involved, where there is “no underlying legal or trade obligation, purpose or economic justification” and “the amount involved is not commensurate with the business or financial capacity of the client” and “any circumstance relating to the transaction which is observed to deviate from the profile of the client and/or client’s past transactions with the institution.”

    If you look at the money trail or read these details, the transactions fit the textbook description of a suspicious transaction. The Bangladesh Central Bank via the New York Fed wiring US$ 81 million to four individuals who just recently opened accounts with nominal amounts of money? There must be a giant red flag here somewhere.

  • Tata Adong

    What a very incisive and thoughtful article! Thank you! Can you help me clarify this nagging thoughts sir: I tend to view the recent spate of criticism on our bank secrecy laws as mere smokescreen for the failure of the American banking system to prevent a cyber heist such as what happened. Secondly, casinos in the US, HK and Macau share the same protection (and had been the subject of various investigations for money laundering as well).

    • Welcome Tata Adong and thanks for dropping by. The article which inspired this one has more details one what happened in detail. Of course there is a lot of finger-pointing especially Bangladesh towards USA but I think further investigations will give more clarification. I am constantly posting news as I find it and I will bear that aspect in mind. But of course this is a complex area and finding the truth is hard.

      Normally the FATF criteria should be quite rigorous and the membership is spread quite widely including the USA, China, Russia and the European countries as full members so I don’t think that there will be major favoritism unless I see proof of the contrary:

      The history of the blacklist is quite interesting as well:

      2000: 15 countries including the Philippines
      2001: 8 countries (Philippines is outside)
      2006: only Myanmar
      2007: none
      2009: 5 countries
      2015: 3 countries

      As for casinos this is what I found about American rules:

      Currency transactions that occur within a single Gaming Day (the normal 24-hour period that any casino uses for accounting and business reporting), whether the currency is paid into the casino, paid out, or exchanged (in the case of foreign currency exchanges), in excess of $10,000 requires the completion of a Currency Transaction Report (CTR, FinCEN Form 112) and must contain enough information to accurately identify the individual(s) transacting the currency.

      Many criminals, such as those interested in tax evasion and money laundering, have researched the Title 31 requirements and have created a number of strategies to avoid detection of their activities by circumventing the reporting requirements. When these activities are discovered, casino staff are required to file a Suspicious Activity Report (SAR, FinCEN Form 114) to report the suspicious activities. Because there are many types of suspicious activities, it is required that casino personnel receive Title 31 training to avoid penalty and remain compliant.

      Bank secrecy like in the Philippines only still exists in Switzerland and Lebanon according to what I have read so far, and also there seems to be no reporting requirements for casinos in the Philippines. Of course the US link also says that criminals can split amounts below the reporting threshold, but this makes it harder for them to do what they want to do. Any kind of law or policing can only make crime harder to commit but never completely eliminate it – anywhere you go.


    “It is hard to believe Go was not involved. He is very familiar with that RCBC branch. It was very early in the day that RCBC cleared him,” Recto said.

    Aside from establishing the culpability of the crime, Recto said the Senate wants the remaining stolen funds in the accounts of Solaire Resorts and Casino and Eastern Hawaii – at least $2 million is left in Solaire alone – to be returned to the government of Bangladesh.

    According to gaming regulator Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp., Solaire received $29 million and Eastern Hawaii received $21 million but initial investigation shows that only $2 million is left in the Solaire account.

    Recto also said the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) should file a case against Philrem and RCBC for possible negligence in preventing the crime and not just against Deguito.

    Likewise, AMLC failed to monitor the suspicious activity and should also be made to explain, Recto said.

    • karlgarcia

      In the discussion at Chempo’s article.
      It was not until caliphman’s question that we noticed that remmitance centers were covered all along.
      As to casinos,they being excluded from the coverage,would that mean,they can not even be monitored at least?
      It is a cat and mouse game.


        MANILA – A Palace official is hopeful that results of the Senate investigation on the crossborder laundering of US$ 81 million stolen from Bangladesh Bank (BB) last February will be used to further improve the Philippines’ anti-money laundering law.

        In a briefing Monday, Presidential Communications Development and Strategic Planning Office Undersecretary Manuel Quezon III said he believes that “the Senate has done its part and is doing its part in holding a hearing in aid of legislation.”

        We can all hope that in the remaining life of the current Congress that this would result in a report and recommendations that could then be the basis for action under the next Congress,” he said.

        The Palace official also stressed that in the midst of the Senate investigation people should consider the importance of the discovery of the said illegal activity and that is “being vigorously looked into.”

        “And I think it is also incumbent on all of us to follow the story and continue to study the ongoing revelations as it is investigated,” he added.

  • – synchronicities everywhere…

    The New York Times just described our banking system as “murky”. It makes you think of some Caribbean country whose economy gives it no choice but to welcome shady financial characters. Have we stooped that low?

    …I still want to believe that we have not lost our sense of honor as a people. I hope the resolution of this case will prove that to the world.

Leave a Reply

You can use these HTML tags

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>