Businessman William So Go demanded a 10 percent cut from the stolen $81 million that entered the country last month, Sen. Teofisto Guingona 3rd disclosed on Monday, quoting statements made by Maia Santos-Deguito, Jupiter Branch manager of the Rizal Commercial Banking Corporation (RCBC).
Guingona, chairman of the Senate Committee on Accountability of Public Officers and Investigations (Blue Ribbon), confirmed to The Manila Times in a text message that Deguito told senators that Go wanted 10 percent of the $81 million stolen from the Bangladesh Bank for him to “play along” in the scheme.
The money, stolen by hackers from the Bangladesh Bank’s account with the Federal Reserve Bank of New York on February 5, was wired to four bank accounts at the RCBC Jupiter Branch.
RCBC legal affairs head Maria Celia Fernandez-Estavillo, who testified at the Senate, said the $81 million eventually ended up in the account of Philrem, a foreign exchange brokerage.
Philrem president Salud Bautista told senators that $30 million was transferred to a casino junket operator, $29 million to Bloomberry Resorts, which operates the Solaire mega-casino in Manila, and $21 million was transferred to Eastern Hawaii Leisure, which operates a casino in Cagayan Valley.
Go, during the Senate investigation of the money laundering, insisted that he does not have any account at the RCBC Jupiter Branch.
The businessman admitted having an RCBC account but it was in the Trinoma branch in Quezon City.
He also denied being involved in the heist.
In his testimony, Go claimed that it was Deguito who offered him money so that he will go along with the transaction but he refused.
Senator Sergio Osmeña 3rd also on Monday said Deguito’s testimony is closer to the truth compared to the statements of other resource persons invited by the Senate.
Osmeña, vice chairman of the blue ribbon committee, said Deguito’s statements were more believable because these can be checked out.
The senator, in an interview aired by ANC, cited a portion of Deguito’s testimony where she narrated the time when she met five persons who owned the RCBC dollar accounts where the $81 million was deposited.
According to Osmeña, Deguito told them that Kim Wong, one of the personalities being investigated in the money laundering mess, invited her for snacks at Midas Hotel where she was introduced to five men.
Osmena said Deguito told them that Wong instructed her to open dollar accounts for the five individuals.
Wong even gave her the IDs and information sheets required in opening an account.
“We asked Ms. Deguito, ‘Did you check whether the IDs looked valid?’ And she said, ‘Yes, that was their photos on the IDs, the IDs looked authentic, so I took it for granted, I took Mr. Kim Wong’s word for it,” Osmena said, quoting Deguito.
Deguito, the senator added, also told them that Wong sent her $2,500 in cash for the minimum balance of the five accounts.
Only four accounts were used, however.
The senator could be referring to the dollar accounts of Michael Cruz, Jessie Lagrosas, Alfred Vergara, Enrico Vasquez and businessman William Go that were opened in May 2015.
It was in Go’s account that the money was deposited after they were withdrawn from the four accounts last month.
Osmeña said there is a possibility that Wong could be one of the major players in the scam because he was the one who called the RCBC Jupiter Branch on February 5 to check if the deposits had been made.
During the blue ribbon hearing last week, Deguito admitted knowing Wong through Jason Go, a car trader and a valued client of RCBC.
She also linked Wong to RCBC president Lorenzo Tan and claimed that it was the RCBC president who instructed her during a birthday party of a common friend, to “take care” of Wong.
“I think Deguito was closer to the truth. It was fairly easy to check out most of her facts,” Osmeña said
“We want to know also what are the other activities William Go, Jason Go, Eastern Hawaiian and the other companies do. This might give us an indication whether they operate more outside the law than within the law. Then we also want to nail down the process that the casinos undertake when they receive this money,” he added.
Meanwhile, the senator rejected a statement of Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (Pagcor) Chairman and CEO Cristino Naguiat Jr. that the money was laundered through the bank before it reached the casinos.
“That’s not true, that’s the exact opposite. It’s the casino that launders the money, but the moment it goes to the casino to a name like Weikang Xu, it disappears because it becomes co-mingled with all the money as they play at the casino,” Osmeña said.