DOJ to start money-laundering case vs RCBC manager, junket operator

In Photo: Former Rizal Commercial Banking Corp. (RCBC) Branch Manager Maia Santos Deguito smiles as she emerges from a media forum on the Philippine Senate probe on the $81 million of Bangladesh’s stolen funds that were transmitted online to four private accounts at the RCBC branch.

THE Department of Justice (DOJ) is set push through with the preliminary investigation on the antimoney-laundering cases filed against former Rizal Commercial Banking Corp. (RCBC) Branch Manager Maia Santos-Deguito and casino junket operator Kam Sin Wong on May 3.

Deguito and Wong are expected to file their separate counter-affidavits to answer allegations that they were involved in laundering  $81-million stolen from the Bank of Bangladesh, which slipped through the Philippine financial system, through RCBC.

The two are facing violation of Section 4 (a) and (b) of Republic Act (RA) 9160, otherwise known as the Anti-Money Laundering Act of 2001. Section 4 (a) holds accountable for money laundering any person who transacts or attempts to transact a monetary instrument or property, which represents, involves, or relates to, the proceeds of any unlawful activity; while section 4 (b) covers any person who performs or fails to perform any act, despite knowledge that any monetary instruments or property involves the proceeds of any unlawful activity and, therefore, facilitates the offense of money laundering.

The complaint cited the testimonies during the Senate inquiry where Wong, the president and general manager of the Eastern Hawaii Leisure Co. Ltd., was mentioned to have received $21.6 million (P1 billion) from the $81-million in laundered money, as well as making several withdrawals from his personal and corporate accounts on February 10 and 11.

The DOJ also issued subpoenas to Michael Francisco Cruz, Jessie Christopher Lagrosas, Alfred Santos Vergara and Enrico Teodoro Vasquez, the persons who allegedly opened bank accounts at RCBC on May 15 last year based on identity documents that were later verified to be fictitious.

Deguito dug herself a deeper hole after admitting she lied before the Senate hearing on the multi-million-dollar international heist by still unknown hackers. During a  hearing presided by Sen. Teofisto Guingona III, chairman of the Senate Blue-Ribbon Committee, the latter said Deguito lied to the RCBC head office by reporting that Lagrosas called her on February 5 to inquire about the fund transfer from Bangladesh. 

She said she should have named Wong as the one who called her, but instead pointed to Lagrosas, whose account was later found to be fictitious, along with four other US dollar accounts opened in May.

Deguito also revealed that Lagrosas and the four other fake depositors had peso-denominated accounts with RCBC’s Jupiter branch that were opened in December 2015.  In previous testimonies, she repeatedly said she communicated with Lagrosas when in truth, she was aware there was no such person since the Social Security System identification card he presented used the photo of RCBC Reserve Officer Adrian Yujuico. The entire time, she admitted she was only talking to Wong and getting instructions from him.

Image Credits: AP/Bullit Marquez

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  1. I hope the DOJ gets more out of Deguito than the senate has. Because really, Deguito has made the senate look like fools, refusing to answer questions and even point blank lying to them. She has made a fool out of RCBC and dragged them into the mud, she’s successfully fooled the senate, what’s to say she’s not gonna make a fool out of the DOJ?

  2. I wonder, since Deguito claims that she’s a small fry, how can she afford Topacio? Is Bank of Bangladesh also paying for her legal team? Or is it the Casino operators and owners like Cong. Albee Benitez of Midas?

    And how do you get the truth from a congenital liar?