MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – The Rizal Commercial Banking Corporation (RCBC) branch manager who exposed important details on the bank’s involvement in the $100 Bangladesh Bank heist tried to leave the Philippines with her husband on Friday, March 12, but was taken off the aircraft on orders of immigration officials
David de Castro, spokesperson of Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA), confirmed in a phone interview with Rappler that bank manager Maia Santos-Deguito was offloaded from her Philippine Airlines flight on Friday.
“Yes, that happened. They were aboard the standard flight 432 of Philippine Airlines (PAL) going to Tokyo, Japan, but because of immigration bureau’s orders for her not to leave Philippines, she was offloaded,” he said, confirming a Philippine Daily Inquirer report.
The news report was also confirmed by PAL spokesperson Cielo Villaluna via text message.
This was after the legal counsel of Filipino-Chinese businessman William Go went public, telling the media of his plans to sue Deguito, who had linked him to the controversial $100-million Bangladesh Bank heist.
About $81 million of Bangladesh central bank’s laundered money has been transferred to RCBC’s Jupiter branch in Makati City.
Go, who used to own S&R Membership Shopping, denied any links to the money-laundering scheme. He is one of the alleged RCBC account holders linked to the scheme.
In Go’s affidavit sent to the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), the businessman said he received a phone call from “a friend” informing him that Deguito, a former branch manager of East West Bank, requested to meet him to discuss “a very important matter.”
“I became anxious why Ms Santos wanted to meet with me considering that she is no longer handling Centurytex’s East West-Fort accounts, and from information, is currently the manager of RCBC Jupiter branch,” Go said in his affidavit.
He added that when he met with Santos on February 23 at Serendra, Fort Bonifacio, Taguig, the branch manager disclosed to Go that she opened a fictitious dollar and peso bank accounts for Centurytex at RCBC-Jupiter, without his knowledge.
‘Help your client’
Meanwhile, the lawyer of RCBC president and CEO Lorenzo Tan urged Deguito’s lawyer, Ferdinand Topacio, to help his client explain why she had attempted to leave the country, and other alleged inconsistencies in her story involving Tan.
Francis Lim said in a statement on Saturday, March 12, that Topacio should do this instead of urging RCBC to sanction Tan. The RCBC president had earlier offered to go on leave pending the bank’s own investigation of the incident.
“He should…busy himself explaining why she attempted to fly to Japan last Friday which has been perceived as flight and therefore an implied admission of guilt,” Lim said.
RCBC, the NBI, the Anti-Money Laundering Council, and the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation have started their own investigation on the biggest money-laundering case recorded in Philippine history.
The Bangladesh government said hackers allegedly stole nearly $100 million from a reserve account.
Investigators said the stolen money was illegally transferred online to the Philippines and Sri Lanka. Bangladesh Bank, the central bank, earlier said it had recovered part of the money and was in contact with the Philippines’ anti-money laundering authorities to track down the rest.
A Philippine Senate hearing on this has been set on March 15. – Rappler.com