RCBC accused of suppressing evidence in money laundering case

Mike Navallo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 24 2019 07:22 PM

MANILA – The Rizal Commercial Banking Corporation (RCBC) was accused Tuesday of suppressing evidence in the money laundering case against some of its current and former officials.

A Department of Justice (DOJ) prosecutor and legal officers of the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) Secretariat made the accusation, a copy of the motion obtained by the media showed.

The motion, filed with Makati City Regional Trial Court Branch 141, sought to exclude RCBC from the case after the bank moved to oppose the subpoena sent to its internal auditor, Antonio Liao, Jr.

The prosecution had wanted Liao to testify on the initial and final audit reports into the February 2016 $81 million Bangladesh Bank heist.

But RCBC, who is not a party to the case, entered its appearance solely to oppose the subpoena, claiming the audit reports contained confidential information on accounts not involved in the bank heist.

“A close scrutiny of the Motion filed by RCBC readily shows that the Motion is in reality a motion to prevent Mr. Liao to testify for the State in this criminal proceedings as well as suppressing documentary evidence with the intent to impair the criminal proceedings against the accused, some of whom are still connected with RCBC," the prosecution said.

"This is a clear obstruction of justice.”

The Makati court earlier denied RCBC’s motion to quash the subpoena, saying the bank accounts that were subjected to audit are exceptions to laws on bank secrecy and RCBC was required under a March 2019 bank inquiry order to give AMLC full access to these accounts.

In the motion to exclude RCBC, DOJ Assistant State Prosecutor Mary Jane Sytat stressed that RCBC has “no right” to be part of the case, accusing the bank of unduly delaying the presentation of prosecution evidence and witnesses.

“It also bears to emphasize that interesting, RCBC, which should be as concerned as the State in prosecuting money laundering that destroyed the reputation of the bank, as well as besmirched the country’s standing in the international financial community, is brazenly preventing the State in doing so,” she said.

“The State reserves its right to file appropriate criminal cases against the responsible officers of RCBC, in willfully obstructing and/or frustrating the successful prosecution of criminal offenders,” she added.

The DOJ filed a money laundering case last May against former RCBC Treasurer and Executive Vice President Raul Victor Tan, National Sales Director for Retail Banking Ismael Reyes, Regional Sales Director for Retail Banking Brigitte Capiña, Customer Service Head for Jupiter Business Center Romualdo Agarrado, and Senior Customer Relations Officer for Jupiter Business Center Angela Ruth Torres.

Tan, who was head of Treasury and a member of senior management and the Anti-Money Laundering (AML) Committee of RCBC, is accused of lifting a hold order on 4 RCBC accounts that received millions of dollars stolen from the Bangladesh Bank’s account with the Federal Reserve in New York, without discussing the matter with the bank’s AML committee. Tan resigned in April 2016.

Reyes is accused of dispensing with the investigation of suspicious transactions involving the 4 dollar accounts; Capiña of failing to conduct enhanced due diligence; Agarrado of approving large cash withdrawals and transfers from the fictitious dollar accounts; and Torres of processing the withdrawals and transfers.

The filing of the case came after a Makati court convicted former RCBC Jupiter branch manager Maia Deguito of 8 counts of money laundering in January this year.