THE bank manager of the Rizal Commercial Banking Corp. (RCBC) Jupiter Branch in Makati City, Maia Deguito, facilitated the transfer of huge amounts of cash because she feared for her life and the safety of her family, a witness told senators on Thursday.
Romualdo Agarrado, a reserve officer of RCBC, claimed to have witnessed how Deguito withdrew P20 million from the bank account of William So Go on February 5, 2016 and load it on her car.
On February 9, Deguito called Agarrado and her assistant, senior customer relations officer Angela Torres, to her office to explain what happened earlier.
She told them that she had to proceed with the transactions otherwise she or her family will be killed.
Agarrado said he got scared because of Deguito’s statement.
“She just looked at me with a blank stare and said: I would rather do this than get killed, or my family,” Agarrado said.
In a scam that shocked the financial world, unknown hackers tried to steal around $1 billion from Bangladesh’s deposits with the US Federal Reserve in New York on February 5.
They got away with $81 million — sending it to the RCBC branch managed by Deguito — before the scam was uncovered.
Authorities have lost track of the money, with significant amounts believed to have been laundered through Philippine casinos.
Although low-level bank officers in Manila have been implicated, no-one yet knows who was behind the heist.
Acting on a request from the US Federal Reserve, RCBC headquarters issued an order to recall the $81 million from Deguito’s branch on February 5.
But on that day, Deguito transferred $66 million to accounts of businessman William Go, RCBC legal affairs head Maria Celia Fernandez-Estavillo said.
Pressed by senators, Deguito denied being fearful for her life. The senators granted her request for a closed-door executive session.
Fernandez-Estavillo told the senators that the $81 million stolen from the Bangladesh Bank eventually ended up in the account of Philrem, a foreign exchange brokerage.
Philrem President Salud Bautista said $30 million was transferred to a casino junket operator who is of Chinese descent.
The rest of the money was transferred to Philippine casinos, $29 million to Bloomberry Resorts, which operates the Solaire mega-casino in Manila, according to the Anti-Money Laundering Council.
Another $21 million was transferred to Eastern Hawaii Leisure, which operates a casino that caters to a mainly Chinese clientele in the northern province of Cagayan, it said. With AFP