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MANILA, Philippines – Kam Sin “Kim” Wong is the only key witness in the $81-million Bangladesh Bank fund heist who signed a waiver to give authorities access to his phone records.
Sacked Rizal Commercial Banking Corporation (RCBC) branch manager Maia Santos-Deguito and PhilRem Service Corporation owner Salud Bautista did not live up to their promise to let the Senate cross-examine their phone call logs.
“In the last hearing, they said they will issue a waiver for phone records. But only Kim Wong signed the waiver. You be the judge. Does that add to the credibility of Kim Wong? How about the other two?” Senator Teofisto “TG” Guingona III, chairman of the blue ribbon committee, said on the sidelines of the final hearing on Thursday, May 19.
During the 6th hearing on the heist last month, the Senate said it would look into the phone records of Wong, Deguito, and Bautista to clarify their contradictory testimonies on who had given orders on the delivery of the stolen funds.
“We were supposed to cross-examine their testimonies, but that didn’t happen because only Wong gave a waiver,” Guingona said.
PhilRem messenger Mark Palmares said during the 6th Senate hearing that he is uncertain if the $18 million and P600 million he had delivered to his bosses had been turned over to junket operator Weikang Xu. (READ: Network: Who’s who in the RCBC money-laundering scam)
The Bautistas of PhilRem have repeatedly said they eventually delivered the said amount to Xu. The couple also told the Senate that Deguito instructed them to pass the stolen funds to some casino junket operators.
But according to Wong, it was he who had received the bulk of the funds and he had supposedly been instructed by the PhilRem owners to pick the money up.
Deguito, meanwhile, denied the Bautistas’ claim that she gave them instructions to deliver the cash to Xu.
During the 6th Senate hearing, Wong, Deguito and the Bautistas agreed to let the Senate check their phone records, after Wong testified that it was PhilRem treasurer Michael Bautista who called him up to tell him that the money was ready for pickup at his house.
This, however, was not clarified during the last Senate hearing at Bayview Park Hotel in Manila, as the committee failed to secure waivers from Deguito and Bautista.
As the Senate concluded its probe into the bank heist, Guingona assured Bangladesh Ambassador to the Philippines John Gomes that “the executive branch will still continue recovering the money.”
Of the $81 million stolen from the Bangladesh Bank, only about $15 million has been turned over to AMLC. – Rappler.com