BB fund heist: Philippines bank manager ‘not telling truth’

Maia Santos-Deguito, branch manager of the Rizal Commercial Banking Corp. (RCBC) on Jupiter Street, Makati, is not telling investigators the truth behind the money laundering of US$81 million that has once again put the Philippines on the map of notorious countries.

To top it all, Deguito’s lawyer, Ferdinand Topacio, a publicity hound, is muddling the investigation by accusing the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) of negligence or a cover-up.

What?! Such a preposterous accusation by a supposedly brilliant lawyer is turning the investigation into a comedy of errors.

How did the AMLC engage in a cover-up or become negligent in one of the world’s biggest bank heists in recent memory?

But the public knows where Topacio is coming from since a lawyer must come up with all kinds of strategy — even an out-of-this world scenario — to get his client in a criminal case out of jail.

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Based on reports that have come out, Deguito seems to have taken part in the theft of $81 million from the Bangladesh central bank.

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Deguito is biding time, apparently cooking up a good defense, by invoking before probers at the Senate blue ribbon committee her right against self-incrimination.

All she could tell committee members is that she would tell everything in a closed-door session.

If she’s innocent, she would not invoke her right against self-incrimination, a refuge of people under investigation who are withholding information. If she’s innocent, she would tell everything she knows.

Deguito’s nemesis is Romualdo Agarrado, her former subordinate at the RCBC-Jupiter branch, who says  she withdrew P20 million from an apparently fictitious account of businessman William Go and loaded the cash in her car.

Go has denied he has an account in the RCBC-Jupiter branch and said his signature was forged. Deguito will surely go to jail no matter how good her lawyer is.

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Deguito has also implicated Chinese-Filipino businessman Kim Wong in the money laundering.

She said the four people who opened accounts in her bank and withdrew most of the stolen money were introduced to her by Wong.

The four depositors can no longer be located.

Granting Wong introduced the four depositors to Deguito, so what?

Wong is a big-time junket operator who hosts high rollers from China.

Even if part of the amount ended up with the Chinese players who were Wong’s guests, how could he have known if it came from a questionable source?

Copyright: Philippine Daily Inquirer/ Asia News Network 

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