Ex-RCBC branch manager Deguito emerging as sole accused in Bangladesh heist
The Department of Justice (DOJ) has indicted former Rizal Commercial Banking Corp. branch manager Maia Santos-Deguito for money laundering in connection with the $81-million worth of funds stolen from the Bangladesh Bank which entered the Philippines.
Deguito is facing complaints for eight counts of money laundering under Republic Act 9160 (Anti-Money Laundering Act) before the Makati Regional Trial Court (RTC) along with four unidentified persons who created fictitious bank accounts in RCBC where the stolen amounts were deposited.
In a six-page resolution dated Aug. 24, 2017 but released to media on Thursday, the DOJ Anti-Money Laundering Task Force stood firm on its finding and denied Deguito’s appeal which sought the dismissal of the charges against her.
The DOJ reiterated that Deguito was criminally liable “based on the fact that she facilitated the withdrawal of the said funds from RCBC and depositing them to the accounts of the unknown and fictitious account holders.”
“The motion for reconsideration is denied as the arguments have already been passed upon in the consolidated review resolution,” it explained in the latest resolution signed by Senior Deputy State Prosecutor Emilie Fe Delos Santos.
In the same resolution, the DOJ granted the motion for reconsideration filed by Philrem executives Salud Bautista, Michael Bautista and Anthony Pelejo last May and dismissed the charges filed by the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) against them.
The investigating prosecutors cleared the three Philrem executives after finding out that they reported the suspicious transfer of funds through the bank.
“The Anti-Money Laundering Task Force took cognizance of the respondents’ averment that contrary to the charge filed against them, they have properly submitted a Suspicious Transaction Report (STR) on 17 February 2016. The respondents presented the subject STR and since the resolution centered on said document, the charge against them for money laundering is herein dismissed,” read the resolution.
But the DOJ has yet to resolve the separate money laundering charges filed by AMLC against six RCBC officials – former retail banking group head Raul Victor Tan, Ismael Reyes, Brigitte Capiña, Nestor Pineda, Romualdo Agarrado and Angela Ruth Torres.
This means additional accused may join Deguito in the court cases – depending on the findings of a separate investigating panel.
It reiterated that the allegations of the AMLC against them “were not supported by direct evidence but mainly by conjectures and implications.”
The DOJ also stood firm on its dismissal of the money laundering charges against casino junket operators Kim Wong and Weikang Xu “for insufficiency of evidence.”
In the earlier resolution, the DOJ found probable cause to indict the Bautista spouses and Pelejo for violations of Section 4 a (transacts monetary instruments or property that represents, involves, or related to the proceeds of an unlawful activity), 4 b (converts, transfers, disposes of, moves, acquires, possesses or uses said monetary instrument or property), 4 f (performs or fails to perform any act as a result of which he facilitates a money laundering offense) ; Section 9 b (record keeping); and Section 14 c (malicious reporting) of RA No. 9160.
The DOJ had also found that the respondents conspired to launder the stolen money into the bank.
Wong has earlier returned to the government $15 million which he got from the stolen funds from the Bangladesh Bank. (PNA)