Banks reminded to strictly implement law on secrecy

By Marites Villamor Ilano |May 02,2016 - 10:04 PM
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SUMBI

A central bank official yesterday reminded banks to strictly implement the bank secrecy law amid the controversy over Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte’s account.

Republic Act No. 1405, also known as the bank secrecy law, prohibits the disclosure of or inquiry into deposits with any banking institution.

Leonides B. Sumbi, Visayas director of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP), said that under the law, there are only three instances when a bank account may be opened: when the account is subject to litigation and there is a court order to disclose it or have it opened; when the account owner authorizes its opening; and when the account is vital to impeachment proceedings.

“The bank secrecy law has not changed. There was a time that we wanted to amend it, but it was not successful because the law is already tight. The banks will just have to strictly implement it,” she said.

Sumbi said the Bank of the Philippine Islands (BPI) may be held liable for violating the law if it is proven that it had a hand in the release of information on Duterte’s account.

BPI management, however, assured that there has been no breach of confidentiality in a post on its Facebook page on April 29.

“Allegations of breach of client confidentiality have recently been leveled at the Bank of the Philippine Islands. Our internal investigation reveals that there has been no such breach,” the bank stated.

“BPI continues to have one of the most highly regarded data protection practices in the industry, and we are committed to protecting client information and preserving the trust bestowed on us by our clients all these years,” it added.

Violators of RA 1405 would be penalized with imprisonment of up to five years or a fine of up to P20,000, or both.
Sumbi was optimistic that client confidence in BPI would not be affected.

BPI CAPITOL BRANCH/APR. 29, 2016 facede of Bank of the Philippine Islands (BPI) Capitol branch. (CDN PHOTO/CHRISTIAN MANINGO)

The management of Bank of the Philippine Islands (BPI) has belied allegations of breach of confidentiality in the Duterte bank account controversy. (CDN PHOTO/CHRISTIAN MANINGO)

“It will affect confidence if it’s easy to do. But because it’s a crime and it’s punishable, dili gyud basta-basta mo-break sa law ang bangko ana (banks would not easily break the law),” she added.

The publicly listed BPI, which was named the 2015 Best Retail Bank in the Philippines by The Asian Banker, reported a full-year income of P18.23 billion last year. Total deposits reached P1.28 trillion, up 8.5 percent year-on-year.

The controversy has not affected the bank’s performance in the stock market, with its share price finishing at P90.95 apiece yesterday, a 0.5-percent increase from the previous close of P90.50.

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