Ex-bank manager convicted of laundering

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The Makati Regional Trial Court Branch 149 on Thursday convicted a former branch manager of Rizal Commercial Banking Corp. on eight counts of violation of the Anti-Money Laundering Act in connection with the $81 million cyber heist in 2016 from the central bank of Bangladesh.

Guilty verdict Former Rizal Commercial Banking Corp. bank manager Maya Deguito, seen in this file photo conferring with her counsel during a Senate hearing, was found guilty for violation of the Anti-Money Laundering Law in connection with the $81-million cyber heist on Bangladesh’s central bank in 2016. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

Maia Deguito was sentenced to four to seven years imprisonment for each count and ordered to pay more than $109 million in fine.

In 2017, government prosecutors charged Deguito with facilitating the transfer of laundered money from the Bangladesh bank to multiple accounts under four bogus names at the RCBC branch on Jupiter Street in Makati.

Prosecutors said the money was consolidated later into a single US dollar account in the name of Filipino-Chinese businessman William Go, withdrawn, converted into peso, and eventually transferred to at least three casinos.

In a 26-page decision, Judge Cesar Untalan dismissed as nothing but a “complete and comprehensive lie” Deguito’s defense that she had nothing to do with the illegal transactions.

Citing Deguito’s “command responsibility” over the bank branch at the time, the court ruled she must be held liable for violation of the anti-money laundering law.

The court noted Deguito’s own testimony showed she “had full and prior knowledge of the illegal source of these funds.”

Untalan also said the evidence indicated Deguito “had not only facilitated these subject illegal bank transactions,” but also to make it easy to transfer the money to the account of Go, “disregarding and putting aside any obstacles and distraction including that stop payment instruction.”

Deguito’s lawyer, Demetrio Custodio, said they will file a motion for reconsideration. He insisted Deguito should not be made to pay the massive fine as the prosecution failed to establish the stolen funds went to her account.

With Elmer N. Manuel

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