Bank manager in $81 M laundering case appeals court ruling
MANILA, Philippines – Former Rizal Commercial Banking Corporation (RCBC) branch manager Maia Santos-Deguito has asked the Makati City Regional Trial Court to reverse its decision convicting her of seven counts of money laundering in connection with the US$81-millionstolen by hackers from the Bank of Bangladesh in 2016.
In a 53-page motion for reconsideration, Deguito cited three reasons why the court’s ruling should be reversed: 1. the court misunderstood the meaning of a money laundering offense; 2. the court misappreciated the facts and evidence and 3. imposed the wrong penalty.
Makati RTC Branch 149 Judge Cesar Untalan found her guilty of seven counts of money laundering, imposing a penalty of up to seven years imprisonment for each count.
She was also required to pay not more than 200 percent of the value of the laundered amount or almost $110-million.
Under Section 4 (f) of Republic Act 9140 or the Anti-Money Laundering Act “money laundering is committed by any person who, knowing that any monetary instrument or property represents, involves, or relates to the proceeds of any unlawful activity …performs or fails to perform any act as a result of which he facilitates the offense of money laundering…”
Deguito, however, said none of the elements mentioned under the law was present in her case.
She said the prosecution failed to prove that the deposited amount came from any unlawful activity or that there was a monetary instrument or property involved.
“Without the existence of an unlawful activity, its proceeds and a monetary instrument or property that represents, involves or relates to such proceeds, then there can be no knowledge of these facts as well. Clearly, no money laundering offense was committed…,” read the appeal.
Deguito added that the court simply assumed that she had knowledge of the illegal transactions worth over US$81million and relied on witnesses that had no direct knowledge of what happened except “on what RCBC and Bangladesh have told them.”
She added that her only duty was to sign the withdrawal and deposit slips to facilitate the transaction.
In this case, however, without her signature, transactions still pushed through.
Unfortunately, she lamented that the court “rejected her defenses without reason.”
“The Honorable Court, however, held that the defense ‘that accused Deguito has no authority to hold these deposits coming from and sourced from foreign remittances is quite unbelievable, to say the least…Why this was so, the Honorable Court did not care to explain,” Deguito added.
Deguito was originally charged with nine counts of money laundering but the court acquitted her on one count because the facts involved in the case was a “copy paste” from one of the eight cases where she was convicted. /gsg
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