MANILA - The camp of Rizal Commercial Banking Corp. (RCBC) Jupiter branch manager Maia Santos-Deguito on Friday accused her bank of covering up the role of some of its officials in an $81-million laundering scandal.
Atty. Ferdinand Topacio, legal counsel of Deguito, said RCBC is pinning her client as a "scapegoat" in the transfer of stolen money from a Bangladesh central bank account into four RCBC accounts.
Topacio claimed RCBC's attempt to cover up for some officials is aimed at maintaining the confidence of its investors and avoiding legal repercussions.
"Siyempre po, pagtatakpan po ng RCBC ang kanilang mga opisyales sapagkat unang-unang po, concerned sila sa reputasyon ng RCBC. Baka natatakot silang masira ang kumpiyansa ng mga depositor sa RCBC," he told radio dzMM.
"Pangalawa po, magkakaroon ng pananagutang legal sa ilalim Anti-Money Laundering Act ang mga opisyal ng RCBC. Pati RCBC po mismo, baka magkaroon ng pananagutan sa ilalim ng batas po sa Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas na nagre-regulate ng mga banko."
Topacio added the RCBC has suspended Deguito, hence barring her from securing bank documents which may clear her name.
"Suspendido po iyung aking kliyente at bawal po siyang pumasok sa bank. Iyung mga dokumento pong magpapatunay na siya ay walang kasalanan, hindi po namin makuha," he said.
"Samantalang iyung iba pong opisyal ng RCBC na pinaparatangan, nasa kanilang custody po lahat iyan e. At may impluwensya po sila doon sa mga nananatiling empleyado ng bangko."
TOPACIO HITS RCBC PRESIDENT
Topacio also questioned in particular why RCBC president and CEO Lorenzo Tan has not been suspended despite being embroiled in the scandal.
Deguito earlier said Tan had personal knowledge of the transactions involving the four questioned accounts.
She also told ABS-CBN News that the owners of the questioned RCBC accounts were referred to her by businessman Kim Wong, an alleged close friend of Tan.
In the interview, Topacio claimed that Tan can destroy evidence linked with the laundering scandal and may also pressure RCBC employees to testify against Deguito.
He also expressed suspicions over a possible conflict of interest that may influence the separate internal probe of the RCBC.
Topacio said Tan is represented in the investigation by the ACCRA (Angara Abello Concepcion Regala and Cruz Law Offices).
The head of the RCBC investigation, Atty. Macel Fernandez, was a former ACCRA official, Topacio said.
Tan earlier denied any involvement in the suspicious transactions facilitated by Deguito.
READ: P20-M loaded into RCBC manager's car: witness
AMLC PART OF 'COVER-UP'?
Tapacio went on to blast the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) for singling out Deguito in the criminal charges it filed in connection with the heist.
The lawyer maintained that the embattled bank manager was ready to tell everything she knows about the scandal before the AMLC slapped her with its lawsuit.
Deguito, during the ongoing investigation of the Senate into the scam, refused to answer questions in public, invoking her right against self-incrimination. She instead gave her testimony through a closed door session.
The Senate blue ribbon subcommittee has coordinated with the AMLC to find ways to secure Deguito's consent in disclosing her statement in its next hearings.