RCBC chief counsel Estavillo quits

Chrisee Dela Paz
RCBC chief counsel Estavillo quits

Alecs Ongcal

RCBC announces the resignation of lawyer Maria Celia Fernandez-Estavillo over a week after the Anti-Money Laundering Council filed criminal charges against several RCBC officers

MANILA, Philippines – Maria Celia Fernandez-Estavillo, the lawyer who represents Rizal Commercial Banking Corporation (RCBC) in the $81-million Bangladesh Bank heist case, will step down from her post as the bank’s Legal and Regulatory Affairs head on December 31.

RCBC confirmed to the Philippine Stock Exchange (PSE) on Tuesday, November 29, that Estavillo resigned “to pursue other endeavors.” She will be replaced by George Gilbert Dela Cuesta.

The development comes a week after the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) filed criminal charges against 6 RCBC officers for their alleged involvement in the money-laundering case. (READ: TIMELINE: Tracing the $81-million stolen fund from Bangladesh Bank

They are are former RCBC Treasurer Raul Victor Tan, National Sales Director for Retail Banking Ismael Reyes, Regional Sales Director for Retail Banking Brigitte Capiña, Direct Sales Director Nestor Pineda, Customer Service Head for Jupiter Business Center Romualdo Agarrado, and Senior Customer Relations Officer for Jupiter Business Center Angela Ruth Torres.

According to the bank’s disclosure, Dela Cuesta will sit as RCBC’s Legal and Regulatory Affairs deputy group head and first senior vice-president effective Tuesday, November 29.

“Atty Dela Cuesta has over 24 years of professional experience in the area of litigation, industrial relations, and general counsel,” RCBC told the local bourse. (READ: Lawyers in the RCBC scandal: High-profile, controversial)

Dela Cuesta graduated cum laude from the University of the Philippines in1988 with a degree in political science, and obtained his law degree from the same university in 1992.

AMLC said its investigation showed that some RCBC officers facilitated the suspicious transactions involving the accounts of a certain Michael Cruz ($6 million), Jessie Christopher Lagrosas ($30 million), Alfred Vergara ($20 million), and Enrico Vasquez ($25 million) despite stop payment requests from the Bangladesh Bank.

The funds were transferred to the account of William Go, who owns Centurytex Trading, and eventually to PhilRem Services Corporation owned by the Bautista couple.

PhilRem has been trading with RCBC’s Treasury Department for the last 3 years.

AMLC’s Investigation Audit Group said the RCBC Jupiter Branch committed know-your-customer (KYC) lapses on the accounts involved.

AMLC said RCBC officers failed “to conduct the requisite investigations and inquiries into the accounts, their beneficiaries, and the transactions attributable to their knowledge about the unlawful origins of the funds or their deliberate refusal to know the unlawful origins of the funds.” – Rappler.com

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