• Deguito tags Tan in money heist

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    MORE TALES Maia Deguito cries as she resumes her testimony at the Senate. Photos taken Tuesday also show (left) Philrem officials Salud Bautista and Michael Bautista being coached by their lawyer during the Senate inquiry. PHOTOS BY CZEASAR DANCEL

    MORE TALES
    Maia Deguito cries as she resumes her testimony at the Senate. Photos taken Tuesday also show (left) Philrem officials Salud Bautista and Michael Bautista being coached by their lawyer during the Senate inquiry. PHOTOS BY CZEASAR DANCEL

    Claiming that she was just a “pawn” in a game played by giants, Maia Santos-Deguito, the former bank manager of Rizal Commercial Banking Corp. Jupiter Branch in Makati City (Metro Manila), said the transfer of the $81 million stolen from the Bangladesh Bank was made possible with the participation of high-ranking bank officials, including RCBC President Lorenzo Tan.

    “If this committee is looking for the ‘grandmaster,’ it is not me. The line runs much higher and involves persons with much more clout and authority than a simple bank manager with modest capability,” Deguito told senators when she appeared before the Senate blue ribbon committee on Tuesday.

    She said she is just a pawn in a “high-stakes chess game played by giants in international banking and high finance.”

    “Other resource persons have laid practically all of the blame on me for the alleged money-laundering, as if I have the resources at my mid-management level to put all the pieces in the place for a crime involving almost P4 billion,” Deguito also told the senators.

    She said a crime of such magnitude could only have been carried out with the participation of higher bank officials in cahoots with businessmen with far-reaching powers and whose influence spans several countries.

    Deguito again denied any involvement in the transfer of the stolen money, insisting that she was used as a scapegoat by people behind the scam.

    “If there is a conspiracy as some honorable senators have publicly stated, I have no knowledge of it,” she said.

    Deguito added that the only mistake she made is trusting and following the instructions of Tan that she “take care” of his friend, casino junket operator Kam Sin Wong, who is also known as Kim Wong.

    In her previous testimony, she claimed that Wong is a friend of Tan because it was the RCBC president who instructed her during a birthday party of a common friend, Jason Go, to “take care” of Wong.

    When asked what Tan meant when she was told to take care of Wong, Deguito said it means that she should give “preferential treatment” to Wong.

    The RCBC president, however, denied Deguito’s claim.

    Although Tan admitted knowing Wong, he insisted that he had no business with the latter.

    ‘Wild narrative’
    But the camp of Tan dismissed Deguito’s statement as a “wild narrative.”

    “We of course know where Miss Deguito is coming from when, out of the blue, she said that she was a mere victim of this cyber heist and that her only fault was in obeying the supposed order from her erstwhile boss, Mr. Tan, for her to take care of his friends,” Tan’s lawyer Francis Lim said.

    Tan recalled that Deguito admitted under oath in a previous Senate hearing that he never instructed her to open any account at the RCBC Jupiter Branch, and that she merely assumed that he knew of the transaction.

    “I only knew Deguito as one of 470-plus branch managers at the bank,” he said in a statement.

    Tan’s lawyer said Deguito’s statement where she portrayed herself as a mother who is working to earn a living with her husband and children is “a poor attempt to gain sympathy for her plight despite her knowledge that what she was doing was contrary to bank regulations, in violation of Bangko Sentral rules, and in disregard of best practices as a banker of over 20 years of experience in the industry.”

    Deguito’s statement, he said, was written by her lawyers and the Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption who had been with her in the Senate hearings for the sole purpose of deflecting attention and to drag and destroy Tan’s reputation.

    “This new tack of Deguito and her supporters is a serious attempt to downplay her direct involvement in money-laundering transactions covering funds of the Bangladesh Bank, and pin the blame on Tan whose standing in the banking community has remained unblemished and unquestioned for decades,” Lim added.

    Wong reiterated that in her testimony, Deguito had assured high-roller Gao Shuhua that she will take care of the opening of five dollar accounts at the Jupiter Branch where Ding Zhize could deposit his supposed investment money in the Philippine casino business.

    RCBC legal affairs chief Maria Cecilia Fernandez-Estavillo also during the hearing said the bank’s Head Office was supposed to freeze the money but it eventually cleared its release because Deguito insisted that she knew the account holders and that she had been waiting for the money to be remitted ever since the accounts were opened a year ago.

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    22 Comments

    1. The mere fact that Dequito acted solely on the transaction on her capacity as the
      branch manager, took advantage and abused her power as branch manager and
      approved the transfer of the funds to payment processor Philem, despite a notice
      to stop payments from the Federal Reserve is against any bank process. So please
      lang stop acting that you’re the victim! mahiya ka naman.

    2. only one thing is to be done if the RP gov’t. really want to go to the bottom of this fiasco, and that is let the court handle this and stop what the senate is doing, trust me nothing good will come out of it. of course Deguito is on it plus the other RCBC top officers, wong, philrem and other chinamen. All of them should land in jail. but hey for 12 years max., it’s nothing if a million is waiting for them once they’re out …… it’s not to glorify their scheme but do you think a full $81M still recoverable?

    3. Valerie Garcia on

      Maia Deguito is a central and a keyplayer in this scandal and not the mere pawn pa victim kuno.

      She is responsible for allowing individuals with no track record to open accounts and withdraw huge sums of stolen money. Deguito doesn’t need higher ups, only criminal minds.

      With Deguito’s capacity as branch manager and level of approval, she allowed the withdrawals despite a request made by Bangladesh Bank for RCBC to freeze the release of the stolen money.

      Her loading of the 20 million peso in her car in itself is against any bank process.

      Deguito knows that she could go through with the transaction and not trigger alarms right away as $400 million or more could be dealt with by branch offices without informing senior officials at headquarters. A branch manager like Deguito is 5 layers below the President.

      So, pa victim? Puhleez!

    4. Ms. Deguito claims she is just a pawn, but she was certainly a very willing pawn, presumably in exchange for financial considerations. I understand she was offered immunity by the Senate Committee, but she refused the offer. Maybe she does not want to return her “commission” or share of the “heist” proceeds. However, if she wants to implicate the bank’s president Mr. Tan, she has to offer more than her claim that he told her to “take care” of Mr. Wong. Otherwise, it will just be reduced to the usual “she says, he says”. Although Ms. Dequirto may not be the mastermind, nevertheless, she is deeply involved in this money-laundering affair. She is going to end up in jail unless she strikes an immunity deal with the Committee.

      All parties involved in this heist should be polygraphed by the FBI agents who apparently will be doing their own investigation. A New York, USA bank is involved, after all. But the sooner this business is passed on by the Senate Committee to the NBI and DOJ, the higher the possibility that all the participants in this scam will be apprehended. It is expected that the Committee’s hearings will, as usual, end up in “no action”. The AMLC, meanwhile, should bone up on “what is money-laundering”, since its members do not seem to understand the concept, and so far, have implicated just two of the culprits.

    5. RCBC should be held accountible and be penalized or taken over by Banko Sentral.

    6. Deguito is throwing accusations without showing proof. Anybody can make conspiracy theories. Proving them is another thing. If Deguito can prove that Tan was really complicit and really did personally order her to do the shenanigans she did, then we will listen to her. As it is, it is all just mudslinging. Where’s the proof?

    7. Franck Frego on

      This affair is so ridiculous. Only very high level can make all of this happen… anyone doing bank transactions with International will tell you it is the way it works.

      • actually branch managers can approve transactions without high level approval of up to 400 million. Deguito opened fictitious accounts, laundered money and then tried to leave the country, you do the math.

        Indeed this affair is ridiculous, we already know where the money went and these senators are still asking senseless questions. Instead of just plastering their faces on tv for publicity why not tell these thieves to return the money to Bangladesh.

    8. Penoy Okey-No on

      The Senate hearing is a delaying tactic to flush out the audit trails of the crime and to set up blockades to investigations.
      The DOJ could not take over yet. The P-noy administration is eerily silent on this worldwide scam. Pnoy is beholden to the business community and the power brokers has insisted “you sit and behave”.

    9. agree, should be handled by DOJ and NBI with close coordination with FBI since Bank of America is involved.

      The Senate is only using this to gain and raise popularity for the upcoming election.

    10. No branch manager will dare to execute such a huge deal without the knowledge and approval of her superiors and no big time client will deal with only a branch manager. De guito is a fall guy here.

      • Daniel B. Laurente on

        That is very true. Moneyed people when repeatedly lies, poor people think of it as true.

      • Anyone can open an account with the bank, inside the bank. The bank manager will not waste her time to see you or show you the way. The preferential treatment is questionable especially if it involves the manager handling a bank clerk’s task personally outside the bank.

      • This is very true I know cause I was a former bank employee, transactions this big are approved by higher officers and do not deal with mere branch managers but top officers like president or Vice Presidents

      • She allowed herself to be used…..a manager knows fully well the operations of her branch that is why she is the head in there. A simple NO to his boss special request could have saved her from this malady. Never mind if you fall out of grace from your boss favorite pet employees if she did value her principles. But the promised incentives were too attractive to dismiss so she took the big risk and this is now history……

    11. All of the them, who conspired with this crime 9money laundering) shall be put to death by FIRING SQUAD or LETHAL INJECTION! It will be a deterrent and shall not be repeated!

    12. I think the problem with dequito is, if she was instructed verbally by Tan to take care of Wong, she should have clarified what “take care” means. she made an assumption probably, and this may not be the first time this happened, that is why she made the assumption. This same operation may have happened so many times but because of lesser amounts, it never exploded like this. That is the problem with our people, they tend to just follow the boss, they don’t have the guts to question nor ask for a written direction to protect themselves. Every transaction, most especially those that involve huge amounts of money should have instructions in black and white not verbatim. In America, simple things should be in black and white. Kaya walang turuturuan at me papel That is the best way of safeguarding yourself and your job. I hope many people will learn from this and start demanding for written instructions even in small offices.
      In my opinion, this will not happen without the highest officer involved somehow. it was easy for him to simplify the instruction to dequito and easy to wash his hands because there is nothing that dequito could present as evidence. it was clean, he was smart! but the very first person who they should suspect is the highest officer and prove it by going down to the bottom of the ladder and work up.

    13. The DOJ should take over this “money laundering case” and give the department’s best state prosecutors a wider latitude of authority to handle the investigation. Bringing it further to the sala of a known no-nonsense Judge would surely bring forth international attention that the Philippines means business in finding the culprits that brought this money shame to the shores of this country.

      Having this investigated in the halls of the Senate purely on the premise as an aid to legislation is an exercise in futility. We all know that nothing short of mere accusations and responses will be the resulting end. In the process, it unnecessarily and continuously places the Philippines in bad light before the international financial market.

      Funny to think that the receiving end of the “net heist” which is the RCBC in the Philippines is loudly reverberating in media circles. However, only a deafening silence pervades from the originating financial institution no less located in the widely accepted world financial capital being New York !!

    14. “RCBC legal affairs chief Maria Cecilia Fernandez-Estavillo also during the hearing said the bank’s Head Office was supposed to freeze the money but it eventually cleared its release because Deguito insisted that she knew the account holders.”— Somethings are not right here, can a mere branch manager dictate to her higher ups in the head office?

      • I agree. If this what RCBC is, a bank that can easily be manipulated by a mere nid-level employee, well depositors and other stakeholders should now start pulling out their investments from this financial institution.