RCBC to file perjury raps vs bank officer in money-laundering case

Chrisee Dela Paz
At the second Senate hearing on the Bangladesh bank heist, RCBC senior customer relationship officer Angela Torres is described as the 'right hand' of bank manager Maia Santos-Deguito

CYBER HEIST PROBE. The Senate blue ribbon committee holds its second hearing on the Bangladesh bank heist on March 17, 2016. Photo from the Senate of the Philippines Facebook page

MANILA, Philippines – Rizal Commercial Banking Corporation (RCBC) will file a perjury case against its senior customer relationship officer for filing a false affidavit on her involvement in the $81-million Bangladesh Bank fund heist.

RCBC legal and regulatory affairs head Maria Celia Estavillo told the Senate blue ribbon committee hearing on Thursday, March 17, that the bank is set to file criminal charges against bank officer Angela Torres, who works at the RCBC Jupiter branch linked to the money laundering incident.

“We received statements under oath by former RCBC Jupiter customer service head Romualdo Agarrado and RCBC Jupiter SCRO Angela Torres on the transactions made [involving Bangladesh Bank’s stolen money], but Torres voluntarily presented her statement, which we later found out was a lie,” Estavillo said.

Taking his oath before the Senate, Agarrado recalled the events that took place at his workplace from February 5 to February 12 involving branch manager Maia Santos-Deguito and the accounts of businessman William So Go. (READ: How Bangladesh Bank dirty money easily got into PH)

Agarrado served as customer service head of the bank’s Jupiter branch from March 16, 2015 to February 17, 2016. 

Based on his statement, $22.7 million was deposited to the account of So Go on February 5. But according to him, he never saw So Go at the RCBC Jupiter branch.

“I only saw him on TV during the first hearing,” Agarrado said.

RCBC: So Go’s signature was forged

Estavillo echoed Agarrado’s claim: “There was a simulated forgery [of So Go’s signature]. The bank considers these accounts not to belong to William So Go.” (READ: Timeline: Tracing the $81-M stolen fund from Bangladesh Bank)

“Between 6 pm to 7 pm, P20 million was withdrawn from his account, a teller placed it in a box, then messenger Jovi Morales and SCRO Angela Torres loaded the money in Deguito’s car,” Agarrado said.

He added that Torres is Deguito’s “right hand.”

This contradicted Torres’ narration in her affidavit, wherein she claimed she loaded the P20 million into So Go’s car, Estavillo said.

Itong kasinungalingang ginawa niya, voluntary niyang binigay (This fictitious statement, she gave it voluntarily),” she added.

On February 9, RCBC Jupiter branch received a request for “recall of funds” from the main office in relation to the stolen $81 million deposited in various accounts.

After personally witnessing the transactions, Agarrado said Deguito asked him to go to her office to discuss something.

“She was saying a lot of things, but what I remember is that she told me: ‘I would rather do this than me being killed or my family,'” Agarrado said.

Deguito vehemently denied Agarrado’s statement, saying that no one had threatened her.  She said she would “tell all” in an executive session, which the Senate committee convened to hear her testimony.

The executive session began around 4 pm and ended past 6 pm.

Agarrado: Deguito tried to bribe me

On February 12, Agarrado said RCBC Jupiter closed at around 9 pm. “Nagkayayaan uminom after work. Pagdating sa gate ng Forbes Park, Deguito’s car was there (There was a general invitation to have drinks after work. When we got to the gate of Forbes Park, Deguito’s car was there).”

According to Agarrado, Deguito had 4 lawyers with her. “One of the lawyers is a BSP (Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas) or AMLA (Anti-Money Laundering Act) expert.”

He added that Deguito tried to ask him if P5 million was enough for his retirement.

Tinanong ako kung nagko-compute na ba ako ng retirement ko. Kasya na daw ba ang P5 million? (I was asked if I was already computing my retirement funds. I was asked if P5 million was enough for my retirement),” Agarrado added.

According to Estavillo, RCBC found out through its initial investigation that only $66 million went to the fake So Go accounts at RCBC Jupiter.

Of all the key resource persons present in the hearing, Deguito is the only one facing a money laundering complaint filed by the Anti-Money Laundering Council. – Rappler.com