Conspiracy eyed in $81M launder

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HOT SEAT Maia Santos-Deguito, manager of the RCBC Jupiter Branch in Makati City, gets a briefing from her lawyer.  At left is RCBC President and CEO Lorenzo Tan. PHOTOS BY CZEASAR DANCEL

HOT SEAT Maia Santos-Deguito, manager of the RCBC Jupiter Branch in Makati City, gets a briefing from her lawyer. At left is RCBC President and CEO Lorenzo Tan. PHOTOS BY CZEASAR DANCEL

BANK officials, personnel of remittance companies and hackers may have conspired to launder the $81 million stolen from the Bangladesh central bank, members of the Senate blue ribbon committee said.

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Senate President Pro-Tempore Ralph Recto on Tuesday said it is possible that there was a “grand conspiracy” because it is clear that those involved planned the whole thing last year when the four accounts where the stolen money was deposited were opened at the Rizal Commercial Banking Corporation (RCBC) Jupiter Branch in Makati City.

“I cannot make any final judgment but it is possible that there is conspiracy because the accounts were opened last year but remained dormant. Why RCBC? And why in that branch?” Recto said in an interview after the blue ribbon hearing.

He raised the conspiracy scheme because, according to him, there is no way that such a huge transaction can be executed by just one individual particularly RCBC Jupiter Branch manager Maia Santos-Deguito.

“So it is important for us to hear what Deguito has to say because it would appear that she really wants to say something,” Recto said.

Deguito reportedly admitted opening an account for Filipino-Chinese businessman William Go, into whose account the hacked money was deposited.

There were four accounts opened in the branch last year under the names of Enrico Vasquez, Alfred Vergara, Michael Cruz and Jessie Christopher Lagrosas with a deposit of $500 each.

The next transactions happened on February 5, 2016 where the $81 million was divided.
But the money was withdrawn simultaneously and deposited in the account of Go.

None of the four owners of the accounts attended the Senate hearing.

Go, who owns brokerage firm Centurytex Trading, denied owning the account where the stolen money was deposited and insisted that he never opened an account in RCBC Jupiter Branch.

Deguito refused to answer questions of senators but expressed her willingness to provide all information in an executive session.

According to her, a case has been filed against her by the Anti-Money laundering Council (AMLC) before the Department of Justice (DOJ) and all her statements relating to the case can be used against her if she will talk during the hearing.

Deguito, in a prepared statement, said she had no intention to disregard or offend members of the committee and that she intends to fully cooperate in the proceeding, but she also wants to protect her rights.

“We wish to respectfully underscore that, by this time, any statement she publicly makes, especially those under oath, shall be binding on her, worse, may and will be used against her in said criminal proceedings,” the statement read.

The bank manager invoked her right to remain silent when asked by Sen. Teofisto Guingona 3rd, blue ribbon chairman, if she did not find anything alarming on the transactions made in four accounts that have been inactive since May 2015.

RCBC president and chief executive officer Lorenzo Tan also invoked bank secrecy laws in not answering questions on certain bank accounts.

“I was advised by counsel your honor to refrain from talking about bank accounts and specific transactions. I apologize,” Tan responded when asked about the alleged fake document used by the depositors to open the accounts.

Tan was allowed by the committee to read his prepared statement regarding the incident and his reply to the allegations of Deguito that he has knowledge of the transactions.

“We vehemently deny and disallow any and all knowledge, complicity or participation in the alleged money laundering of $100 million in the Philippines,” he said.

Lorenzo Tan

Lorenzo Tan

“More important, I have no personal knowledge of, much less personal participation, in any of the transactions that are subject of this inquiry,” Tan added.

He pointed out that RCBC processes more than two million transactions per month with an average peso value of P1 trillion and although he was the CEO of the company, he does not know or have to approve all of the bank’s transactions.

Deguito said she was personally recruited by Tan from EastWest Bank but the latter denied this.

Senator Sergio Osmena 3rd, vice chairman of the blue ribbon committee, is not convinced that Tan is involved in the transactions.

“I don’t think the RCBC president will risk his reputation for this stupidity. He’s making much too much money. The branch manager is really the key person in any banking system,” Osmeña said.

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12 Comments

  1. Greed and politics are tied-up together. I suspect that there is an unseen hand directing all of this fiasco. What a timely move for the upcoming elections. Anybody smell something fishy?

  2. ang alam ko, campaign funds ito na naboking. Kaya kung sino ang ultimate na may-ari ng pera na ito na kandidato, tiyak talo na dahil hindi na sya makakapa mudmod ng pera.

  3. There are bad Chinese and there are good Chinese . There are good Filipinos and there are bad riding in tandem assassin Filipinos. Unfortunately, our laws are very weak. In China, if a person is caught with drugs, they are punished by death, in our country, the drug dealers go in and out of jail and sometimes have a luxurious unit in jail Mintinlupa BJMP.

  4. We all know there is corruption involved, so knowing that do you honestly expect any single person to be frank & open & answer any & all questions. Now if you were totally innocent of all this you would have to be tortured to keep silent, so of course they are involved & will say & do anything to get off with this. Again i see the bank secrecy law pops up, & again i say why does the Philippines have this bank secrecy law, yes for one reason only, to hide any & all ill gotten money. Its so strange how this wonderful bank secrecy law doesnt apply to a peso account so all the benefits of having the bank secrecy law is denied to the average filipino as they dont have enough money to have a dollar account. If the normal peso account is secure & safe then surely the rich & powerful could use that, but if its easier or better for them to have a dollar account fine but stop this bank secrecy law, its the start of corruption, the corrupt use it every single time.

  5. There are BSP rules about opening $ account, dormant accounts, unusual big remittances and withdrawals. Were these rules abided by RCBC in executing this USD 81m transactions? Unusual SWIFT instructions can be re-confirmed as a control built-in within. As a prudent manager re-confirmation must be done. Again very interesting is the “presence of huge CASH in the vault” of a bank branch, there must be a huge money requisition and must questions from the HO authorities about huge cash requirements must have raised. If all these were by-passed, it manifested that the internal controls were compromised.

  6. Those chinese who came from the Main land China must be deported back along with Mr. pinokyo…After EDSA 1 revolution,i remember when most chinese people were smuggled thru Poro Point of San Fernanddo La Union. That time was Corykong Aquino is the President. The entry point of chinese who came from Peking (now beijing) is the Poro Point.. They were illegals and no documents. I dont know if Corykong deported these illlegal chinese from mainland china. This is another information should know by our people…

  7. to get to the bottom of this fiasco zeroed in on the RCBC branch manager maia deguito obviously she’s lying to the max. Problem with senate hearing is that it is toothless. to ferret out the truth ibato na ito sa corte sampahan na agad nang kaso at sampolan itong si deguito and company nang isang matinding prison terms. Otherwise Philippines will be the new money laundering capital of the world. Itong senate hearing sigurado ako gagawin lang itong platform nang mga senators para sa more tv exposure, puntos for coming election. Anyway I hope itong demanda na isinampa nang AMLC kay deguito ay magbunga nang maganda at makulong itong si deguito at kanyang mga kasamahan.

  8. Money,money,money-dirty money make their haven in the Philippines,
    Money laundering in the Philippines has been big business in the country where banks,financial institutions ,money brokers, forex traders and casinos are involved.

    Most of those involved are CHINSE NATIONALS and banking and financial institutions of which majority of their stockholders are CHINESE NATIONALS.

    Money laundering in the Philippines has “blossomed” as an industry from the PCORY ERA and reaching its peak in the PNOY ERA!

    The AMLAC Law is weak. The BSP is remiss in its supervisory and regulatory functions on the banking and financial institutions.

    CRIMINAL CONSPIRACY galore among the banking and other financial institutions including casinos and big real estate developers,catering to all the “laundering of dirty money” from all over the world!

    GROSSLY HUMILIATING !

  9. Same thing with Binay. Binay and his dummies are financing his candidacy through the money his family stole from the government of Makati. With the billions of pesos and dollars that Binay stole from the government, Binay will surely afford to buy votes and promise his soul and his family to the devil just to win the presidency. But God is good. God will not permit Binay would be the next president of the Philippines. Let us keep on praying to save the Phillipines from the Binay family.

  10. What else is new about these Chinese. The Filipinos should do what the Indonesians and Vietnamese did to the Chinese. We should send all the Chinese back home to their mainland China. These Chinese are the ones exploiting the corrupt Filipino politicians and worst of all, they are the financiers of Binay to get the Spratly Islands.