Metrobank says arrest made after P900-M fraud report

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MANILA – Metrobank said Friday one person was arrested following reports of internal fraud that allegedly cost the lender at least P900 million.

The Philippine Daily Inquirer reported that a senior bank official funneled disbursed loans into fictitious accounts. Bangko Sentral Governor Nestor Espenilla said he was investigating the report.

“Upon our own discovery, the bank immediately caused the arrest of the individual involved in this case, who has been detained by the authorities since Monday,” Metrobank said in a statement.

The bank controlled by tycoon George Ty did not identify the arrested person nor say how much money was involved. It said a case has been filed.

“No customer has been affected in this incident. In the context of the bank’s P1.9 trillion financial resources, rest assured that we continue to operate business as usual for the bank and our customers,” the bank said.

Metrobank shares were down 4.54 percent to P87.35 in early trading on Friday.

“This is emotional selling,” Abacus Capital and Investment director Manny Ocampo told ANC’s Market Edge with Cathy Yang.

“The sooner that Metrobank is able to come up with a statement on what happened, I think the better to calm people’s nerves down,” he said.

It was the second time in as many years that a local bank was dragged in alleged fraud.

In February 2016, unidentified hackers shifted $81 million from Bangladesh’s foreign reserves to an RCBC branch in Makati City.

The BSP fined the Yuchengco-owned lender a record P1 billion over the incident, which exposed the vulnerabilities of the financial system to money laundering.

Legislators also recently investigated local banks over glitches.

Last month, Bank of the Philippine Islands’ digital channels were paralyzed for 2 days due to what it said was an “internal error.”

The country’s largest lender, BDO Unibank, later admitted that 7 of its ATMs were “compromised” in a “skimming” attack that allowed unauthorized transactions.
 



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