UNLIKE junket operator Kam Sin “Kim” Wong who has voluntarily surrendered to the authorities a portion of the $81 million stolen by hackers from the Bangladesh Bank, the Rizal Commercial Banking Corporation (RCBC) has not expressed any willingness to return the amount it earned from converting the dollars to Philippine pesos, Senator Teofisto Guingona 3rd said.
Guingona, chairman of the Senate blue ribbon committee, on Monday said RCBC officials have not expressed an intention to return the money despite being aware that the foreign currency it converted to peso came into the country illegally.
The senator noted that the bank claimed that it only made P2 million for converting $61 million of the $81 million that was transferred to the RCBC Jupiter Branch in Makati City (Metro Manila) on February 5.
RCBC officials have been attending Senate hearings on the multimillion-dollar laundering scandal.
“There has been no commitment from the RCBC,” Guingona said when asked if the bank would also do its share in the efforts to recover the money in behalf of Bangladesh.
“We will see if they [RCBC officials] are giving the correct figures since the Central Bank [Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas] and the AMLC [Anti-Money Laundering Council] will be conducting an audit,” he added.
The senator said that even if the entire $81 million that entered the RCBC had been withdrawn, it does not mean that the bank did not get anything from it.
The blue ribbon committee will resume its inquiry into the $81 million laundering scandal today (Tuesday).
Senators are expected to grill the owners of Philrem, the remittance firm that handled the distribution of the stolen fund to Solaire Resorts and casino junket operators.
Wong, who turned over $4.6 million and P38.38 million to the BSP, claimed that Philrem, owned by Michael and Salud Bautista, still has in its possession $17 million but the firm denied it.
Guingona said they still want the Bautistas to explain how they remitted the money because the testimonies they gave recently to the committee were full of inconsistencies.
According to PhilRem, it transferred P600 million and $18 million in six tranches – the first delivered by their messengers to the Solaire casino.
The rest of the money was picked up from Bautista’s home.
But Salud Bautista said the entire amount was delivered to Chinese businessman Weikang Xu at Solaire.
Bautista also did not mention Wong’s name during the first hearing, despite the fact that Wong was among those prominently involved in the transaction.
Guingona said the committee is determined to find out who is telling the truth and he is willing to subject them to a lie detector test if they are willing.
Meanwhile, former RCBC Jupiter Branch manager Maia Santos-Deguito is expected to attend the preliminary investigation into the money-laundering case filed against her at the Department of Justice (DOJ) on Tuesday.
A subpoena issued by Assistant State Prosecutor Gilmarie Fe Pacamarra ordered Deguito to appear before the department on April 12 and 19.
Deguito is expected to submit her counter-affidavit and documents to rebut allegations against her.
The complaint against Deguito was filed by the Anti-Money Laundering Council after she admitted opening several bank accounts where the $81 million stolen money was transferred.
The AMLC said Deguito failed to verify the owner of the supposed bank accounts and even ordered the withdrawal of the same despite a formal request from Bangladesh Bank to stop payment.