The Department of Justice (DOJ) has filed money laundering charges against officials of the Rizal Commercial Banking Corporation (RCBC) and remittance firm Philrem Service Corp. (Philrem) in connection with the entry of $81 million stolen from a Bangladesh bank into the Philippines.
The DOJ filed eight counts of criminal charges for violation of Republic Act 9160 or the Anti Money Laundering Act against RCBC Jupiter, Makati Branch Manager Maia Santos-Deguito and four bank depositors it identified as John Does.
The DOJ also indicted Philrem owners Salud Bautista and Michael Bautista as well as Anthony Pelejo as it junked their defense that they knew nothing about the hacking of the Bangladesh Bank.
“The Consolidated Resolution recommends the indictment of Ms. Deguito and four unknown persons; 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 funds eventually went to the account of a certain Mr. Go, proprietor of Centurytex. The funds were then withdrawn. Mr. Go denied that he opened an account with
RCBC and his contention is now the subject of another case. Some of the funds were allegedly gambling in the casinos and some handed to individuals and banks,” the DOJ said in its resolution.
However, Deguito had earlier identified the depositors as Michael Francisco Cruz, Jessie Christopher M. Lagrosas, Alfred Santos Vergara and Enrico Teodoro Vasquez.
The Manila Times obtained a copy of the department’s 12-page Consolidated Review Resolution.
The department has yet to rule on the cases against several RCBC executives including Raul Victor Tan, head of the bank’s Retail Banking Group.
Referring to Philrem officials, the DOJ said, “Respondents’ knowledge or lack thereof on the true nature of the funds can be inferred from their actions.”
Meanwhile, the DOJ exonerated Filipino Chinese national and casino junket operators Kim Wong and Weikang Xu “for insufficiency of evidence.”
The DOJ ruled that Wong’s and Xu’s direct participation in the crime as narrated by Deguito could not be established.
Deguito claimed that she was ordered by Wong to go to Midas Hotel to open bank accounts for five Filipinos on
May 14, 2015. She added that Wong made a series of telephone calls and told her about a $6-million inward remittance and instructed her to transfer them to Centurytex Trading.
But the DOJ said “there was no showing that Kim Wong or Weikang Xu directly participated by overt acts in the laundering operation.”
In its complaint, the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) said Philrem “commingled the funds and acted as a ‘cleaning house.
“Philrem’s role was to make it extremely difficult to trace the source and flow of the funds by avoiding all anti-money laundering measures set by laws and regulations,” it added.
The AMLC said $61 million was transferred to the peso account of Philrem with the RCBC-Unimart Greenhills in February 2016.