Ex-RCBC manager convicted over $81-M Bangladesh Bank heist

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Ex-RCBC branch manager Maia Santos Deguito attends a Senate hearing on the $81 million cyber theft that struck Bangladesh Bank. ABS-CBN

MANILA – A Makati City court has convicted former Rizal Commercial Banking Corp. (RCBC) branch manager Maia Santos-Deguito for her role in the laundering of $81 million stolen by hackers from the Bangladesh Bank in 2016.

Deguito was found guilty for seven counts of money laundering with a punishment of 49 years of imprisonment. She was also ordered to pay not more than 200 percent of the value of the laundered money.

“The prosecution evidence can stand by itself to convict the herein accused beyond reasonable doubt,” the Regional Trial Court said in its decision. “The crime of violation of the subject law is fully proved and established.”

Deguito was convicted as she took advantage of her knowledge of the banking law and more than a decade of experience to facilitate the “illegal transactions with ease,” the court said.

Deguito was also pinned by the witnesses who testified that she opened a number of fictitious bank accounts where funds from the hacked bank account from Bangladesh were transferred.

“The accused must be responsible of her executed acts and implemented transactions as charged and described in the subject eight criminal information,” the Makati court said.

It added: “She has prior knowledge of these remittances, hence accused Deguito was able to prepare, beforehand, for these remittances in crystal clear violation of the AMLA Law.”

The court also said that Deguito’s “most glaring” act was the cash withdrawal from bank account under the fictitious name J.C. Lagrosas worth US$22,735 million on Feb. 5, 2016 at 3:16 p.m. and deposited to a fictitious account named “William Go.”

“This is the account opened by accused Deguito by her order, without initial deposit coming from Mr. Go and Mr. Go did not authorize the opening of this account,” it added.

Deguito was originally charged with nine counts of money laundering but the court acquitted her on one count because the facts involved in the case was a “copy paste” from one of the eight cases where she was convicted./PN

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