Bank exec in launder scam denies plan to escape
The Rizal Commercial Banking Corp. (RCBC) branch manager who was stopped by immigration authorities from leaving the country for Japan on Friday afternoon over her alleged involvement in a money-laundering scheme said she has no intentions of escaping.
Maia Santos-Deguito, who was offloaded from Philippine Airlines flight PR 432 bound for Narita, said she would go to Japan for her youngest child’s birthday celebration and would return on Tuesday next week.
Deguito, branch manager of RCBC on Jupiter Street in Makati City, was one of the key personalities invited in the hearing of the Senate blue ribbon committee on Tuesday.
“Alam ko na may mga pinagdadaanan ako pero hindi ko pwedeng isantabi ‘yung obligasyon ko (bilang ina)… In fact nag-iwan ako ng sulat sa Senate na babalik ako… Tatlo po ‘yung anak ko, isang anak ko ‘yung kasama ko, ‘yung mag-birthday lang,” an emotional Deguito said in an interview over radio station dzMM.
(I am aware that I am going through a difficult time but I could not just set aside my obligation (as a mother)… In fact, I left a letter to the Senate that I would return…I have 3 children left, I am only with my child who will be celebrating his birthday.)
“He still [doesn’t] understand. Bakit umalis yung eroplano na hindi kami kasama, bakit hindi siya makakapag-Disneyland, bakit ang daming tao, bakit kami kinukuhanan. Wala kasing kamalay-malay ‘yung anak ko eh,” she added.
(He still [doesn’t] understand. Why did the airplane leave without us on board? Why can’t he go to Disneyland? Why are there many people? Why are they taking pictures of us? My child is innocent about what is going on.)
Deguito noted that no hold departure order was issued against her, and that she was not facing any legal case or complaint.
“Wala po akong hold departure order, actually nasa loob na kami ng eroplano tapos sinabi ng isang staff doon na kailangan akong kausapin ng immigration. Lumabas naman ako eh tapos ang gusto nila ‘yung mag-ama ko lang, sympre hindi naman aalis ‘yung asawa ko na hindi ako kasama,” Deguito said.
(No hold departure order was issued against me, actually we were already inside the airplane when a staff there told me that the immigration (authority) needed to talk to me. I stepped out and they told me only my husband and child can leave, of course they won’t leave without me.)
“May pinakita silang letter sakin from AML council na ‘yun nga, that I’m allegedly part of money laundering, kumbaga kung i-explain mo sa Tagalog, huwag akong hayaang takasan ‘yung batas. Wala pa naman akong kaso, and in fact hindi naman ako tumatakas talaga,” she added.
(They showed me a letter from the anti-money laundering [AML] council saying that that I’m allegedly part of money laundering. Translated in Tagalog, it seems like they are saying I should not be allowed to escape from the law. No case has been filed against me yet, and in fact I am not really escaping.)
Deguito is already being investigated by the RCBC head office for alleged violations of the bank’s money laundering and terrorist financing prevention program manual and for falsification of deposit account opening and other offenses listed by the bank’s human resources group.
She allegedly allowed the transfer of the $81 million, stolen by computer hackers from the US account of Bank of Bangladesh, into five accounts in her branch without thorough scrutiny, a violation of the bank’s know-your-customer rule.
Asked about the accusations against her, Deguito said she will explain her side on the matter in the Senate investigation next week, however, she maintained that she did not do anything wrong.
“Wala akong ginawang mali. Wala akong ninanakaw. Maliit lang po akong tao,” she said.
(I did not do anything wrong. I did not steal anything. I am just a small person.) RAM
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.