• $81M LAUNDERING

    Wong to blame too, says Recto

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    AN EARFUL OF ADVICE Kim Wong consults his lawyer during a lull in the Senate inquiry. PHOTO BY CESAR DANCEL

    AN EARFUL OF ADVICE Kim Wong consults his lawyer during a lull in the Senate inquiry. PHOTO BY CESAR DANCEL

    BUSINESSMAN Kam Sin Wong, also known as “Kim Wong,” can’t pin all the blame on Rizal Commercial Banking Corp. (RCBC) Jupiter Branch Manager Maia Santos-Deguito for the illegal money transfer because he also played an active role in facilitating the entry of a huge amount of cash into the country, Senate President Pro-Tempore Ralph Recto said on Wednesday.

    Wong was the star witness when the Senate blue ribbon committee resumed its inquiry into the laundering of $81 million in stolen money from the Bangladesh Bank on Tuesday.

    “Ang maliwanag dito para sa akin, hindi nila pwedeng ituro lamang si [(For me what is clear is that they can’t solely point at) RCBC (Jupiter Branch manager) Maia Deguito],” Recto said in a radio interview.

    Wong, in his testimony on Tuesday, said that he got P100 million in cash on February 5 and another P300 million and $5 million in cash from February 10 to 14.

    He also said that he is willing to turn over the $4.63 million that was deposited with Solaire Casino.

    The amount was part of the $63 million that went to Midas and Solaire Casinos.

    “I am willing to turn over the $4.63 million cash to Bangladesh. We who are working in casinos, we have a word of honor,” he said when asked during the hearing if he is willing to turn over the money to the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) for safekeeping.

    He also said that some $17 million is still with PhilRem.

    He claimed that it was Deguito who facilitated the opening of the bank accounts to which the stolen money was transferred.

    “Si Maia ang nagpeke ng sinasabing limang bank accounts. Si Maia ang gumawa ng lahat ng paraan para mailabas ang pera sa banko [It was Maia who created the five fictitious bank accounts. It was Maia who released the money from the bank],” Wong said.

    Recto noted that based on the testimony of Wong, he and two Chinese businessmen–Shuhua Gao and Zhize Ding–knew about the huge amount of money that will enter the Philippines even before Deguito opened four RCBC accounts.

    It was Wong who introduced Gao to Deguito who helped them open the four fictitious bank accounts at RCBC Jupiter Branch where funds were later deposited.

    “May 2015 pa noong ginawa yung accounts. Ang maliwanag, alam nila na may papasok na pera kaya nagbukas ng accounts [The accounts were opened in May 2015. What is clear is that they knew about the entry of money that is why they opened the accounts],” Recto pointed out.

    Wong said it was Deguito who facilitated the opening of the four bank accounts where the stolen money was later deposited. He said it was she who also released the money from the bank.

    The four bank accounts were under the names of Michael Cruz, Jessie Lagrosas, Alfred Vergara, Enrico Vasquez and businessman William So Go.

    But Dante Jimenez, founding president of the Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption (VACC), said Deguito will counter Wong’s allegations.

    Jimenez said Deguito monitored the Senate hearing and was greatly affected by the lies made by the businessman.

    “She is ready to answer the allegations next week and she is really affected by Wong’s testimony,” Jimenez said.

    According to him, Deguito is staying in a safehouse. She is expected to attend the Senate hearing on April 5 (Tuesday).

    Jimenez at the same time called on RCBC president Lorenzo Tan and other bank officials to resign for them to save the institution.

    “We all know the dangerous consequences when banking institutions are threatened [with]losing their integrity, credibility or trustworthiness and depositors lose their confidence in a bank. A bank run may occur and we should exert all efforts to forestall this economic tragedy from happening,” the VACC head said in a statement.

    The VACC is helping Deguito by providing security for the former bank manager.

    Big shame
    Meanwhile, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) said the $81- million money laundering scandal that rocked the country’s banking industry is a cause for national shame.

    CBCP president and Lingayen Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas expressed belief that some government officials and public servants may have been involved in the laundering of the stolen money, considering the magnitude of the amount involved and the intricacies of the banking process.

    “No one pulls off a criminal stunt like this alone. So it is that the dramatis personae in this sad story of loot and theft are many including cyber-criminals, colluding bank executives, probably even government officials and public servants,” Villegas said n a statement titled “Money Laundering in the Gambling Republic.”

    The CBCP made the statement on March 28, a day after Easter, but was released only on Wednesday.

    The $81 million stolen from the Bangladesh Central Bank’s foreign exchange account at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York was remitted to the four fictitious accounts at the RCBC Jupiter Branch in Makati City (Metro Manila), and from there, consolidated into another alleged fictitious account of businessman William So Go, then to a local money-transfer firm Philrem, and then into the account of several casinos.

    Villegas said proposed solutions to include amendment to the Anti-Money Laundering Act that would place casinos under the watch of the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) would not deter a repeat of a similar criminal act in the future.

    The prelate added that concerted efforts should instead be focused on real problems like enforcement, public vigilance and the moral bankruptcy that underlies all forms of criminality, disorder and immoral conduct.

    “The Senate has commenced an investigation into the matter, and we are only now starting to see how wide the reach of this form of criminality and arrant immorality is,” Villegas pointed out.

    He reiterated that the Church is strongly against casinos and other forms of gambling not just because these are avenues of money laundering and destroy the moral fiber of Filipino families.

    “But we decry casinos more as a symbol of the reckless abandon with which many live their lives. It is common knowledge that fortunes have been lost, families have been wrecked, futures shattered at casino tables, and yet, they continue to thrive, government sanctions them and their operators and owners continue to enrich themselves,” Villegas said.

    He added that the Church will continue to vigilantly monitor gambling activities, report them to authorities and constantly educate the faithful on the immorality of gambling in whatever form.

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    16 Comments

    1. Francis Dizon on

      In organized crimes like this heist, all moves are well planned and rehearsed. All players would have taken part in a dry run of some sort. Therefore there are no innocent bystanders. All players are guilty. In this instance, perhaps only the hackers themselves could escape the claws of justice.The Philippine government must legislate to put an end to this capers. Not only are these establishments breaking family values but are conduits for money laundering and yes, prostitution etc. . So many questions are left unanswered.
      How is the ordinary citizen benefiting from these establishments?
      Who in the government or in PAGCOR stands to benefit the most from their operations?
      Why do we need so many casinos?
      What other heinous crimes regularly occur in those premises that go unreported and undetected?
      I can recite a litany of the above but what pains me most is seeing lowly kababayans used as pawns by foreign nationals who should not be in our country in the first place.
      TIME TO WAKE UP FOLKS!!!!

    2. Ms. Dequito is only accessories for the crime. Who gave instruction to Ms. Dequito to open an account?? she is only ordinary employees of the bank , and of course the Boss, is always right even if he is wrong… Poor dequito, ginawa kang sangkalan ng mga amo mong Beho.. dahil ikaw ay isa lamang nangangamuhan sa kanila…The big culprit is the chinese investor investing gambling in our country..Huwag pabayaan makalabas ng bansa ang mga iyan, at dapat ipa blotter sa FBI for money laundering..
      it is a long planned crime…pinadadama lang nila ang Pilipinas, tapos gagawing nilang transit sa mga kanilang mga illegal activities.. do not trust these chinese investor…

    3. You do NOT NEED to look further and farther from the FACTUAL TRUTH in our Philippine settings – these SWINE-FACED Senators and Congressmen are the real manifestations of Grand Theft Larceny taking place ever since the inception of this money making concept of PORK BARRELL-PDAF-DAP-, or whatever names you can attach to this Animal – Sulsol, Bribe, Lagay – to push the Executive’s political agendas throughout the Land.
      IT HAS BEEN INSTITUTIONALIZED IN THE PHILIPPINE POLITICAL SETTINGS – and there are no indications it will go away or be repealed by the same Swine Benefactors…

    4. This Monster Animal R.A. 1405 of 1955 – aka Bank Secrecy Law is a perfect haven to hide, cover shady/dirty money by these business and political crooks…

      And in our contemporary times – a handy, necessary tool for these crooks to hide their LOOT and PLUNDER of Public Funds…

      AMLAC? A necessary Administration TOOL to harass, persecute and prosecute perceived Opposition – and at the same token coddle under your protective wings your beloved KKK’s …

    5. Jacinto Baybay on

      who cares about money laundering when your country is perceived to be plunderers.

    6. Daniel B. Laurente on

      The fallacy and dirty tricks of the lawyers of the people involved in this anomaly are at play, all directed to removed the arrow of blame from their client and all directs to the branch manager who has no power at all to demolish their thick wall of lies. Money ais the bottomline here, The rich will pin down the poor as always. The reality put to obscurity so that those involved go scatch free, the poor will agonize for doing she thinks was right. Any bank branch manager always wishes that his/her satellite branch will have a great volume of customers meaning more money coming into her/his responsibility. If she knows that the money coming into four account that she manage to create under the shadow of friendship referral was sourced from illegal means she would for sure decline the request beacuse she knows very well it won’t set well in her interest. Lawyers use your professional ethics not to be overcome monetary ethics.

    7. arturo b. odejar on

      Any wrongdoing specially with money must be brought to justice in soonest possible time so the culprits be given jail time.We just listen to all those involve what they have to say and wait for the truth.to come out….

    8. UNA president Toby Tiangco was more frank about it, saying the AMLC has devoted much of its precious time looking for imaginary anomalies committed by the Vice President that it was unable to recognize an actual robbery happening right under its nose.

    9. Romeo Tuazon on

      It’s a conspiracy between the top exec and their friends, knowing that they can blame it on Deguito as the scapegoat. The power of these rich individuals is so overwhelming that Deguito cannot refuse. Specially when she is told or promised “kami bahala sa iyo” poor Deguito. Forfeit their assets and pay Bangladesh back. I call on you DOJ, senators, don’t let them bribe you and metted a slap on the wrist as punishment to these conspirators. Do what is the Sandigan Bayan does when they punish the erring officials.

      • Deguito is part of a money laundering machinery in all the banks in PH. She was recruited by Lorenzo Tan to help the money laundering machinery of RCBC. Pumalpak lang dahil sa hacked funds. Ginagawang scapegoat ngayon si Deguito ni Tan et al. Dapat ibulgar na lahat ni Deguito ang alam nya sa money laundering sceme dito sa Pinas. Anyway dean woman walking na siya dahil itutumba na sya ng sindikato.

      • Deguito is the mastermind , without her, the whole scheme will collapsed. Placing her as a star witness and in the witness protection program is the biggest mistake in the whole legal system because she cannot be sued by anybody for stealing like Benhur Luy. This is the plan of Deguito to avoid going to prison. This is part of Plan A. Remember, they planned this for almost a year. They knew this will be detected sooner than later with so big amount. T his was well planned from the start.

    10. Some Senators are saying the money laundering gave the country a bad image and that the $81million should be returned to the to Bangladesh. If they are really serious about this, why let Bangladesh suffer waiting for results from the Senate hearings. Why not the Senators push Malacanang to immediately return the $81million NOW and just let the Senate continue to look for and recover the missing money.

      Wouldn’t it show a good the international community that PI is a model country?

    11. The Jose Velarde Account which was signed by President Joseph “ERAP” Estrada himself in Malacanang in front of Equitable Bank Manager Miss de Ocampo which ERAP claimed he will loan P430M to “Plastic King” Gatchalian caused a bank run. Equitable Bank was bought by SM Mogul Henry Sy and is now one of the local largest and most solid bank, Banco de Oro. What more if the money involved is $81M owned and ROBBED from the BANGALDESH CENTRAL BANK?
      I read in your paper that one of the picture used by the fake accounts at RCBC was that of Mr. Adrain Yuico. Is this the same person who invited Mr. Agrravado in his Fobes Park home and met Miss Maia Santos who Mr. Agrravado offered him P5M and lawyer good in AMLC problems? If he is, why is it the senate have not invited Mr. Yuico is not yet invited by the Senateto check the veracity of the story of Mr. Agrravado?
      Tama rin ang CBCP, may kasalanan ang mga taga gobierno pagka’t pinalawak nila ang SUGGALAN at ngayon sa lahat ng SULOK NG PILIPINAS ay meron CASINO AT ON LINE BINGO MALIBAN PA SA PINALAWAK NA JUETENG.

    12. Deguito did not act alone. Let others who benefited and are a part of this scam be punished. Shame, shame, shame.

    13. Our politicians are deeply in the pocket of these junket casino operators. I was really surprised how Tanda reacted when Senator Pemintel requested record of bank accounts from RCBC allegedly forged by Ms. Mia Deguito. I will not be surprised if Tanda is also in the payroll of this Kim Wong who operates his Casino in Cagayan — a bulwark of Tanda– for years. Everyone has a price, just find how much it is: J. P. Morgan.