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RCBC’s Tan sues Deguito, seeks P32M in damages

Chrisee Dela Paz
RCBC’s Tan sues Deguito, seeks P32M in damages
RCBC president-on-leave Lorenzo Tan files charges against sacked branch manager Maia Santos-Deguito over the Bangladesh Bank controversy

MANILA, Philippines – Lorenzo Tan, the president-on-leave of embattled Rizal Commercial Banking Corporation (RCBC), filed civil and criminal charges against his sacked employee, Maia Santos-Deguito, who claimed that he was the brains behind the $81-million Bangladesh Bank fund heist.

On Monday, April 11, Tan filed charges against Deguito before the Makati City Regional Trial Court, accusing the ex-RCBC branch manager of libel and false testimony under the Revised Penal Code.

“All of these were products of mere assumptions made by respondent [Deguito] that I oversaw and thus authorized the questioned transactions. Her imagination had simply gone beyond what was real or actual, and is farthest from the truth,” Tan alleged in his complaint. 

Deguito said in a Senate hearing that her former boss, Tan, was aware of the opening of 5 fictitious bank accounts at RCBC’s Jupiter Street branch in Makati City. It was into these fake accounts that the $81 million stolen from the Bangladesh Bank’s account in New York were deposited. Tan, however, vehemently denied this.

From the fake accounts, the laundered funds were converted into untraceable gambling chips in Solaire Resort and Casino as well as Midas Hotel and Casino. The movement from fake accounts to casinos was through the services of money remittance firm PhilRem Service Corporation, which delivered most of the money in cold cash.

Casino junket agent Kam Sin “Kim” Wong told Philippine senators that the remaining $17 million of the Bangladesh Bank is still with the money transfer firm. PhilRem’s owners denied this. (READ: $81-M bank heist money trail hits dead end in casinos)

Deguito also said that Tan asked her to “take care” of his friends, including Wong. 

But for Tan, “the imputation of the foregoing acts diminished if not destroyed my reputation as a banker.”

Tan said his profession is “based on utmost trust and confidence between myself and the Bank’s clients, and I have striven hard to keep my reputation from being sullied as it is my source of livelihood and productivity as a professional.”

“Without a good reputation, I cannot be a credible banker, let alone be called one,” he said in a separate statement.

Tan also alleged that the statement made by Deguito in media interviews, Senate hearings, and in her March 7 reply to RCBC’s show cause memorandum showed “a clear ploy to create a defense for herself against the various criminal accusations made against her by implicating me as complicit in her caper.”

Deguito previously told the Senate on April 5 that she only “relied on the fact that Mr Tan could not have been unaware of a transaction that has been labeled the biggest bank heist in the history of the world.” (READ: TIMELINE: Tracing the $81-million stolen fund from Bangladesh Bank)

Civil complaint filed

Aside from criminal charges, Tan also filed a civil complaint against Deguito for abuse of rights and defamatory imputations, seeking P32 million in damages on top of attorney’s fees.

“I have no other asset but my reputation, a gift that is of utmost value in an industry dealing with trust and people’s monies,” he said.

“Even if her accusations against me are found untrue, my reputation which I had carefully built and guarded for almost 35 years has already been irretrievably tainted.”

Tan took an indefinite leave from RCBC to clear his name and give way to the ongoing internal investigation of the bank.

The Senate blue ribbon committee will conduct its 5th hearing on the bank heist on Tuesday, April 12. – Rappler.com

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