RCBC , Philrem officers on Bangaladeshi heist ask DOJ to defer filing of cases in court

MANILA-- Former Rizal Commercial Banking Corp. branch manager Maia Santos - Deguito and executives of remittance firm Philrem Service Corp. have filed motion for reconsideration before the Department of Justice in connection with the heist of USD 81-million worth of Bangladesh Bank funds that entered the Philippines.

In a 12-page Consolidated Review Resolution, the DOJ has filed eight counts of criminal charges for violation of Republic Act 9160 or the Anti Money Laundering Act against RCBC Jupiter, Makati Branch Manager Maia Santos-Deguito; and alleged bank depositors Michael Francisco Cruz, Jessie Christopher M. Lagrosas, Alfred Santos Vergara and Enrico Teodoro Vasquez.

The DOJ found probable cause against the said accused acting in conspiracy and in violation of Section 4F of the Anti Money Laundering Law after the Bangladeshi Bank funds was hacked and stolen.

In the DOJ findings, it also indicted with four counts of violation of Money Laundering are Philrem owners spouses Salud R. Bautista and Michael Concon S. Bautista and Anthony C. Pelejo.

Deguito and Philrem executives Salud Bautista, Michael Bautista and Anthony Pelejo all filed motions for reconsideration on the resolution by investigating prosecutors last month finding of probable cause in the complaint filed by the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC).

They asked the DOJ to defer filing of the cases in court and instead dismiss the charges.

The department's task force on anti-money laundering cases under Senior Deputy State Prosecutor Emilie Fe Delos Santos has already come up last month with a 12-page review resolution approving the indictment of the respondents.

But the task force decided not to file the case before the court yet and give the respondents opportunity to appeal its findings and file motions for reconsideration.

The DOJ gave Deguito and other respondents until May 8 to appeal the ruling. Should they fail to file MR, the task force would file the cases in court.

In other criminal cases that had undergone preliminary investigation, the DOJ would immediately file the cases in court upon finding of probable cause by investigating prosecutors - without giving the respondents the same opportunity to first appeal the resolution.

While DOJ rules provide for filing of appeal and petition for review before the office of the secretary, such remedies are available even when the cases are already filed in court and undergoing trial.

In the resolution, the DOJ has found that the accused to have conspired to launder the stolen money.

The prosecutors held that Deguito was criminally liable "based on the fact that she facilitated the withdrawal of the said funds from RCBC and depositing them to the accounts of the unknown and fictitious account holders."

As for the Philrem executives, the DOJ rejected their defense that they knew nothing about the hacking and heist at the Bangladesh Bank.

It will be recalled that the case was filed by the AMLC at DOJ last April 28 against the spouses Bautista along with Pelejo.

They were charged for allegedly violating Section 4 a (transaction of monetary instruments or property that represents, involves, or related to the proceeds of an unlawful activity), 4 b (convertion, transfers, disposal of, movements, acquisition, possession or uses of said monetary instrmument or property), 4 f (performs or fails to perform any act as a result of which he facilitates a money laundering offense) ; Section 9 b (record keeping); and Section 14 c (malicious reporting) of RA No. 9160.

AMLC stated "Philrem, acting as remittance agent, actually commingled the funds and acted as a 'cleaning house' and that Philrem's role was to make it extremely difficult to trace the source and flow of the funds by avoiding all anti-money laundering measures set by laws and regulations."

Source: Philippines News Agency