MANILA – A former employee of the Rizal Commercial Banking Corp. (RCBC) is standing by her embattled boss, Jupiter branch manager Maia Santos-Deguito, putting herself at odds with the higher-ups of the country's fifth largest bank.
Speaking to dzMM, former RCBC Jupiter-Makati branch senior customer relationship officer Angela Torres debunked the statements made by her former colleague, customer service head Romualdo Agarrado.
WATCH: Former RCBC employee recalls withdrawal of P20-M
Agarrado said in a Senate hearing on Thursday that P20-million from the supposed bank account of businessman William Go was loaded into the car of the bank manager on February 5, contrary to Torres' claim that it was loaded into the businessman's Lexus car.
Torres, however, refuted this because she personally handed over the money and asked Go to indicate receipt of the cash.
''Totoo naman po na si William Go ang kumuha ng pera kasi ako po mismo ang nagpa-sign sa kanya,'' she said in the interview.
Torres' former boss Deguito was put under the spotlight after it was discovered that four accounts whose holders were found to be fictitious were used in moving into the Philippine banking system $81 million stolen from the central bank of Bangladesh's account at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
The four accounts, opened in May last year, remained inactive until February 5 this year, when $81 million was infused into them.
The funds were later consolidated into the dollar account of Go, who has denied knowing anything about the account.
The $81 million eventually ended up in two casinos: Solaire Resort and Casino, Eastern Hawaii Leisure Co. Around $30 million in cash also went to casino junket operator Weikang Xu, in what some senators say is a clear case of money laundering using casinos, which are exempted from the Anti-Money Laundering Act.
READ: Junket operator got 780,000 banknotes in laundering scam
During Thursday's Senate hearing, Maria Cecilia Fernandez-Estavillo, head of RCBC's legal and regulatory affairs, testified that an internal investigation revealed that the dollar and peso accounts of Go in the bank's Jupiter-Makati branch were fake.
''We did an internal verification and the signatures of his peso and dollar accounts do not seem to match his other signatures in his other account in [RCBC] Trinoma,'' Estavillo said.
''With high degree of certainty, the questioned signatures allegedly signed by Go were not signed by one and the same person, and was a result of a simulated forgery. The bank considers that these accounts do not belong to William Go."
READ: William Go's signatures forged, RCBC confirms
'MONEY LOADED TO MR. GO'S CAR'
The result of RCBC's internal investigation differs with the testimony of Torres, who Estavillo said submitted a ''perjured'' affidavit.
''We consider Angela's affidavit perjured. In her affidavit, she said she loaded the money to Mr. Go's SUV and she made him sign documents. But because the guard's log does not support her affidavit, and because Agarrado's affidavit contradicts it, and our evidence shows it to be false, we intend to file a perjury case against her,'' Estavillo told senators.
According to Estavillo, on February 5, $22.7 million entered Go's account. Between 6 and 7 p.m., the P20 million was withdrawn from the Jupiter account.
In the radio interview, Torres stood by her testimony, saying she met Go before as the latter's son also has an account at the RCBC Jupiter branch.
Torres said on February 5, she requested the P20 million from the bank's cash center upon the instruction of Deguito. She said the withdrawal slip bore the signature of Deguito.
Contrary to Agarrado's claim that Deguito drove off with the P20 million with her car, Torres said Go arrived outside the Jupiter branch on board a Lexus car to claim the cash.
''Binaba ni William Go ang salamin, nandoon siya sa passenger seat. Minsan na po siyang pumunta sa branch para mag-withdraw. Nag-withdraw siya pero di para sa account niya, sa account ng anak niya,'' Torres said.
Torres said the P20 million was taken from Go's peso account.
Go has denied owning the peso and dollar accounts in the RCBC Jupiter branch. Estavillo and Torres both confirmed that the peso account opened in July 2014 had actual transactions.
Estavillo also noted that an individual cannot open an account with zero balance unless it is linked to another account.
GO'S DOLLAR ACCOUNT
Torres also spoke about Go's supposed dollar account in which the stolen $81 million was allegedly consolidated.
She said she called Mr. Go herself to confirm the opening of his dollar account.
''Ako ang nag-confirm. Tinawagan ko po siya. Kasi sa banko po, kapag mag-oopen ng account, ico-confirm, lalo po ang ganito na di namin siya nakita, ico-confirm po,'' she said.
''Ang gamit po is cellphone ko. Cellphone number din niya [ang tinawagan ko], binigay sa akin ni Miss Maia."
Torres added that Deguito also asked her to communicate with the head office regarding the $81 million remittance on February 5.
"Initiative ito ni Ms. Maia. Siya po ang nagsabi sa akin na 'Angela mag-request ka nga sa head office ng SWIFT copy for these remittances.' Kasi hindi po tumawag sa amin yung head office na may ganun kaming credit, na may ganung darating na remittance sa amin," she said.
Torres said the head office eventually responded to her e-mail and green-lighted the transaction.
A request for freeze of the funds from the bank's settlements department would later be sent to the RCBC Jupiter branch on February 9, according to Estavillo. This was the same day a significant amount was transferred from the four fictitious accounts to Go's.
Citing Agarrado's testimony, she said Deguito ignored the request and processed the fund transfer to Go's account in a matter of about 30 minutes.
Estavillo said, again citing Agarrado's affidavit, that the customer service head overheard Deguito saying, "Mabuti nang i-process ko ‘yan kaysa mamatay ako at pamilya ko."
Torres, however, said she did not hear her boss say this. She also said she believes her former boss is credible.
''Hindi ko po alam kung bakit nangyayari ito kay Ms. Maia pero napakabait niya na tao. Mahal niya kaming mga tao niya sa branch. Sumunod naman kami sa proseso, may approvals naman po. Hindi ko po alam kung bakit siya ang dinidiin nila," she said.
She said while RCBC was conducting an investigation into the matter, she got the sense that company's top officials and lawyers were trying to pin down Deguito.
''Parang sinasabi sa akin na 'makipagtulungan ka na sa amin para matapos na ito'. Kulang na lang sabihin nila 'baliktarin mo si Maia'. Parang yun na lang ang gusto nilang sabihin ko. Eh wala naman po talagang ginagawa si Ma'am Maia,'' she said.
Torres added she is also willing to testify at the Senate.
''Opo. Para kay Ma'am Maia at para sa pangalan ko na sobra ang sinabi ni Ma'am Macel na di ako pinagkakatiwalaan,'' she said.