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Makati RTC finds former RCBC manager guilty over money laundering

Maia Santos Deguito, a branch manager of the Rizal Commercial Banking Corp (RCBC) gestures as she testifies during a Senate hearing of money laundering involving $81 million stolen from Bangladesh’s central bank, at the Philippine Senate in Manila April 19, 2016. REUTERS/Erik De Castro

The Makati Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 149 sentenced the former Rizal Commercial Banking Corp (RCBC) bank manager guilty of money laundering in connection with the $81-million cyber heist on Bangladesh’s central bank 3 years ago.

Maia Santos Deguito was sentenced to 4 to 7 years in prison for each of the 8 counts of money laundering by Judge Cesar Untalan in his verdict promulgated on Thursday, January 10. She was also ordered to pay $109 million in penalties.

“Wherefore, premises considered, this court hereby finds accused Maia Santos-Deguito guilty beyond reasonable doubt, hence this court hereby imposes a penalty of imprisonment and fines,” the order stated.

Deguito was the branch manager of the RCBC branch which was involved in a bank heist in 2016, which quickly attracted international attention.

Based on the investigation of the Department of Justice (DOJ), a portion of the $81 million that was stolen by unknown hackers of the Bangladesh Bank was deposited in accounts under fictitious names.  It said to be converted to peso and distributed to junket operators and casinos. 

According to reports, the money was deposited to foreign currency accounts of RCBC, which passed it on to Philrem Service Corporation for conversion and distribution.

In 2017, the Department of Justice (DOJ) cleared executives of money transfer firm Philrem Service Corporation in the indictment, leaving Deguito to face the charges. DOJ also cleared casino boss Kim Wong, junket operator Weikang Xu and remittance service Philrem.

Wong returned at least $15 million of the stolen money that landed in casino accounts.  

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