Makati court convicts ex-RCBC manager of money laundering
MANILA – The Maka Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 149 yesterday found former bank manager Maia Deguito guilty of money laundering over the 2016 Bangladesh Bank heist, sentencing her to 4 to 7 years in prison for each of the 8 counts.
"Wherefore, premises considered, this court hereby finds accused Maia Santos-Deguito guilty beyond reasonable doubt, hence this court hereby imposes penalty of imprisonment and fines," Judge Cesar Untalan said in his verdict promulgated on yesterday.
Deguito was also ordered to pay $109 million in penal es.
Since money laundering is a bailable offense, Deguito will enjoy provisional liberty as she appeals her convic on all the way to the Supreme Court.
Deguito’s lawyer Demetrio Custodio claimed his client could not be made to pay the fines because the stolen money did not go to her.
“Because the amounts allegedly taken has been credited to the account of William Go, my client Maia will not be forced to turn over the amount,” Custodio said.
The wording of Untalan’s decision pinned down Deguito for having knowledge of the illegal transfer of the stolen money, but did not explicitly say that the money went to her.
“Therefore, this court, then and now, hereby concludes with certainty that accused Deguito had not only facilitated these subject illegal bank transac ons; but accused Deguito had coordinated and corroborated to the execu on and implementa on of these illegal bank transac ons for an easy and prompt execu on for credit and transfer to the account of Mr. William Go, disregarding and puªng aside any obstacles and distrac on including that stop payment instruc on,” said Untalan.
Custodio said the court did not have jurisdic on to seize the amount.
“There is no forfeiture here because the amounts have not been subject to the jurisdic on to the court, the person called William Go has not been made party to this case, so he will not be made to account for the amounts taken from Bangladesh,” the lawyer said.
Deguito refused to make a statement.
The owners of the bank accounts – some said to bear fic ous names – where the stolen money was deposited remained at large.
Bangladesh ambassador to the Philippines Asad Alam Siam told reporters they hoped for the speedy resolu on of the cases against other Rizal Commercial Banking Corpora on (RCBC) officials pending before the Department of Jus ce (DOJ).
Deguito was a branch manager of the RCBC, which figured in a bank heist in 2016 that a racted interna onal a en on.
She was implicated in the $81-million Bangladesh Bank heist that saw stolen funds end up in the Philippines.
In 2017, the DOJ cleared execu ves of money transfer firm Philrem Service Corpora on in the indictment, leaving Deguito to face the charges.
The case involved hacking Bangladesh Bank, the central bank of Bangladesh. The stolen funds were converted to Philippine pesos and distributed to junket operators and casinos.
The money was deposited to foreign currency accounts of RCBC, which passed it on to Philrem for conversion and distribu on.
The stolen funds were deposited to the account of William So Go of DBA Centurytex Trading, opened on the same day of the deposits.
Former RCBC branch manager Maia Deguito listens to the media interview of her lawyer (not seen in photo) after a Makati court convicted her of money laundering in connection with the Bangladesh bank heist on January 10, 2019.