Another foreign bank plans to expand in the Philippines, despite the $81-million money laundering scam that rocked the domestic banking industry in February, Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas said Wednesday.
Bangko Sentral Deputy Governor Nestor Espenilla Jr. told reporters another Asian bank submitted an application to set up shop in the country, bringing to two the number of pending applications the policy-setting Monetary Board was currently evaluating.
“We have a new applicant. It’s another Asian bank,” Espenilla said, but he did not identify the lender.
Bangko Sentral said it would reveal the name of the foreign bank only after the applicant had disclosed the approval in its home country. Most foreign bank applicants were publicly listed companies.
Espenilla said the application of the other Asian bank, which was submitted late last year, was still pending because “they have issues that they need to iron out.”
Bangko Sentral approved six applications in 2015, including those by United Overseas Bank Ltd. of Singapore, Yuanta Commercial Bank Co. Ltd. of Taiwan, Industrial Bank of Korea, Shinhan Bank of Korea, Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corp. of Japan and Cathay United Bank of Taiwan.
Bangko Sentral officials assured that the domestic banking industry remained sound and strong despite the $81-million money laundering issue. The illegal funds reportedly entered the country’s financial system through a branch of Rizal Commercial Banking Corp.
The issue is currently being investigated by the Senate.
Espenilla said earlier more foreign banks were expected to enter the liberalized domestic banking industry through strategic partnerships to seize the opportunities in the growing Philippine market.