‘P1-B RCBC fine backs Deguito claim’
THE IMPOSITION of a P1-billion penalty on Rizal Commercial Banking Corp. (RCBC)―the largest fine ever imposed by a regulator in local banking history―bolsters the argument the transfer of $81 million in funds stolen from the Bangladeshi central bank was facilitated at the RCBC head office and not at the branch under former manager Maia Deguito, according to her legal counsel.
In a statement, lawyer Ferdinand Topacio reiterated his client’s claim she was merely “a pawn in a high-stakes chess game played by giants in international banking and high finance.”
Topacio said the imposition by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) of an administrative fine on RCBC “validates and reinforces what Deguito had been saying all along―that institutional lapses, weaknesses and deliberate acts at all levels of RCBC’s head office were the direct, principal and immediate causes of the stolen amount being able to enter the Philippine banking system and to be laundered through certain individuals and corporate bodies.”
During the previous Senate’s probe into the international money laundering scheme, RCBC officials pointed to Deguito as the brains behind the movement of the stolen funds through the bank and then to casinos.
Newly appointed RCBC president Gil Buenaventura, meanwhile, assured the public of the bank’s financial health, saying it would be unaffected by the hefty BSP fine.
“With this payment, RCBC affirms its continued viability and determination to fulfill its firm commitment against money laundering, terrorism and other transnational crimes to ensure the stability of the banking system,” Buenaventura said.
He said the bank was making changes to its anti-money laundering systems and processes to “make it among the most prepared in terms of thwarting money laundering attempts in the Philippines and the region.”
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