MANILA - A Philippine senator on Thursday asked the Senate Blue Ribbon committee to hold RCBC Jupiter branch manager Maia Santos Deguito in contempt after she refused to answer questions about the $81 million money laundering heist.
Senator Juan Ponce Enrile lost his patience after Deguito continued to ask the Senate for an executive session so she could reveal what she knows about the scam.
She reasoned that among the individuals being linked to the money laundering scheme, she is the only one facing a complaint filed by the Anti-Money Laundering Council and that she is invoking her right against self-incrimination.
Enrile pointed out that there is too much evidence being presented against Deguito including forged signatures and fake documents of bank depositors in her branch.
"Ikaw pinanggagalingan ng gulong ito. Ikaw ang nakakaalam ng lahat ng ito. Bakit ka hihingi ng sikreto, pagsisiwalat mo? Sabihin mo muna bakit ka humihingi ng executive session. Natatakot ka ba? Tinatakot ka ba? Magkakasunog ba sa banking system natin?" he said.
"Hindi pwede executive session lang. Sino ka?"
Chinese hackers are believed to have stolen $81 million from Bangladesh Bank's account with the Federal Reserve Bank of New York last month. The funds were electronically transferred to RCBC accounts in the Philippines last February 5.
The funds were consolidated into a single dollar account before being transferred into Philippine casinos.
During the hearing, Enrile questioned Deguito about a statement she allegedly made last February 9 that she would rather process the transaction "rather than place her family in danger."
Deguito, however, denied making that statement. "I strongly deny making that statement," he said.
Cecilia Fernandez-Estavillo, head of legal and regulatory affairs at RCBC, however, pointed out that at least two people - Romualdo Agarrado, customer service head at the bank's Jupiter branch, and Deguito's assistant, Angela Torres - both confirmed that Deguito made that statement.