Bank probes RCBC branch manager’s superior
Rizal Commercial Banking Corp. (RCBC) is investigating the immediate superior of its branch manager whom it accused of facilitating the release of funds allegedly being laundered in the Philippines after being stolen from the overseas accounts of the Bangladeshi central bank.
Speaking to reporters during a break at Thursday’s Senate investigation, RCBC legal chief Ma. Celia Fernandez-Estavillo said the bank’s ongoing internal probe pointed to possible culpability of the direct boss of Maia Santos-Deguito, the RCBC manager of the branch on Jupiter Street in Makati City.
“We have an investigation and we have a determination about those who are culpable,” Estavillo told reporters. “We also saw [evidence of] negligence but it’s an internal investigation so we can’t talk about it in detail.”
Asked whom she thought was negligent in the transaction that resulted in $81 million in bank deposits that slipped through the bank’s internal controls, the RCBC legal chief replied, “Perhaps the immediate superior [of Deguito].”
Estavillo declined to reveal more details about the branch manager’s superior whom higher management suspects of negligence, but RCBC president/CEO Lorenzo Tan earlier detailed to senators that there were at least three layers of officials ranked higher than Deguito in the bank, including an area head, a division head and the head of the bank’s entire retail branch banking unit.
The RCBC legal head said the internal probe was focused on determining whether procedures and processes were followed.
“In general, the branch is responsible for KYC,” she said, referring to the so-called “know-your-customer” rule that is standard practice among banks to deter money-laundering activities.
“[Deguito’s] immediate superior should verify,” she added.
KYC verification rules include establishing the identities of new clients as well as validating the authenticity of their official documents and signatures—a process that may have been breached in the opening of the five fictitious bank accounts through which the laundered funds were coursed.
Estavillo declined to reveal the identity of Deguito’s immediate superior pending the finalization of the investigation.
She also pleaded for understanding from the public for the bank’s refusal to divulge more details about the bank accounts in question because of legal constraints.
“RCBC is very grateful for the opportunity to address the issue that has been raised that we are hiding behind bank secrecy laws,” she said. “We want to discuss the truth. But we labor under laws. We cannot speak freely because we have obligations under bank secrecy laws. We want you to know what happened.”
Speaking further about Deguito’s actions, she said: “In our view, if anything comes out of this [investigation], we want her jailed and prosecuted for what she’s done.”
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