DOJ wraps up probe on $15M of $81M heist money
The Department of Justice (DOJ) has wrapped up its preliminary investigation on money laundering charges connected with the $81 million stolen by hackers from the Bangladesh Bank in New York and funneled through bank accounts in Manila.
Assistant State Prosecutor Gilmarie Fe Pacamara has concluded the preliminary investigation on three consolidated complaints after four months of hearings. The consolidated cases are the complaints filed by the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) against former Rizal Commercial Banking Corp. branch manager Maia Santos-Deguito and four others; casino junket operators Kam Sin Wong alias Kim Wong and Weikang Xu; and executives of remittance firm Philrem Service Corp.
Pacamarra said a resolution may be issued within the month.
The pending cases at the DOJ involves $15 million of the $81-million stolen funds.
Aside from the $15 million covered by the DOJ cases, the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. recovered $2.7 million while $63 million more from the stolen money remain missing and are now being pursued by Bangladeshi officials.
All the respondents have already submitted their counter-affidavits, denying allegations of money laundering.
Former RCBC Jupiter Branch Bank Manager Deguito last May asked the DOJ to dismiss the case against her for lack of probable cause.
She denied the allegation that she facilitated the laundering of the stolen money, insisting that it was former RCBC president Lorenzo Tan who ordered her to open the four fictitious accounts where the $80,884,641.63 stolen by hackers from the Bangladesh Bank went.
Wong, meanwhile denied the allegations but pointed to Deguito as the one who facilitated the transactions. He said he has already returned to the government P38.28 million and $4.63 million he got from the laundered money.
The Philrem executives–president Salud Bautista, chairman of the board and treasurer Michael “Concon” Bautista–and anti-money laundering compliance officer Anthony Pelejo also sought dismissal of the AMLC complaint arguing that AMLC’s complaint-affidavit did not specify any predicate crime by the alleged source of the money, a key element of money laundering.
READ: 3 Philrem execs charged
The respondents further claimed that the hacking of the Bangladesh Bank did not happen in the Philippines, which goes against the principle of “territoriality” in the country’s criminal law, meaning the alleged crime should have been committed in the Philippines.
Philrem was the firm tapped to deliver the money from the Rizal Commercial Banking Corp. Jupiter Makati branch to local casinos where the funds disappeared. CDG/rga