RCBC: Conviction showed bank was a victim

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RCBC: Conviction showed bank was a victim

Mary Grace Padin (The Philippine Star) – January 11, 2019 – 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The guilty verdict on its former branch manager Maia Santos Deguito was proof that the bank was just a victim in the $81-million cyber heist three years ago, the Rizal Commercial Banking Corp. (RCBC) said yesterday.

“The conviction of Deguito is consistent with the bank’s position that it is the victim in this situation and that Ms. Deguito is a rogue employee,” RCBC spokesperson Thea Daep said in a statement.

Makati Regional Trial Court Branch 149 Judge Cesar Untalan found Deguito guilty of violating the Anti-Money Laundering Act (AMLA).

The Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC), meanwhile, said Deguito’s conviction would contribute only indirectly to efforts to recover the stolen funds from Bangladesh Bank.

“Since a conviction is a criminal proceeding that is entirely separate from recovery efforts, Deguito’s conviction only helps the retrieval indirectly by bolstering the civil forfeiture cases through which recovery efforts are coursed,” the council said.

AMLC said Deguito’s conviction has made her the eighth individual found guilty of violating the AMLA since its enactment in 2001.

Hackers tried to steal close to $1 billion from the Bangladesh Bank account with the Federal Reserve Bank of New York in February 2016. The US bank was able to stop 30 of the 35 transactions.

However, five transactions involving $81 million entered the Philippines via RCBC under fictitious accounts. Deguito was accused of facilitating these transfers.

Of the total amount, Bangladesh Bank has so far only been able to recover $15 million.

The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas imposed a P1-billion fine on RCBC in August 2016 for its role in the laundering of stolen funds.