Biz Buzz: Back channeling at RCBC | Inquirer Business

Biz Buzz: Back channeling at RCBC

/ 12:22 AM March 11, 2016

Word on the street is that the Senate is set to summon the manager of Rizal Commercial Banking Corp.’s Jupiter St. branch in Makati City to testify during the hearing on the alleged laundering of funds stolen from the Bangladeshi central bank.

The branch manager—Maia Santos-Deguito—was, by her own account, pirated by RCBC and personally assigned by the bank’s president, Lorenzo Tan, to head the Jupiter branch which is a prime assignment because it handles some of the bank’s biggest accounts, we understand.

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Her previous employer was East West Bank where she was also known as a “star performer,” we’re told, hence the decision of RCBC to poach her in 2013.

Fearful of being blacklisted by the central bank (and, thus, banned from working in the banking industry for life), the suspended Santos-Deguito is now pointing fingers as to who ordered her to facilitate the questionable transactions worth $81 million—and they are pointing upward.

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So next week’s Senate probe might turn into a he-said, she-said blaming session unless either side comes up with compelling evidence pointing to the other party’s culpability.

But what’s this we hear? Supposedly, back channel talks are now ongoing between Santos-Deguito and her bosses at the bank.

Will these rumored discussions result in an “understanding” or will fireworks fly on live TV next week? Abangan! Daxim L. Lucas

Spot the difference

Eagle-eyed reporters spotted the difference.

Rizal Commercial Banking Corp. on Tuesday afternoon released a press statement that said: “RCBC and its principal shareholders—the Yuchengco family, Cathay Life, the largest life insurance company in Taiwan, and IFC, the investment arm of the World Bank—are fully committed to comply with all banking laws and regulations, in particular those on money laundering.”

But yesterday afternoon, the bank filed an amended disclosure with the Philippine Stock Exchange reiterating the same statement released to reporters the previous day, but with one minor difference.

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The new press statement read: “RCBC is fully committed to comply with all banking laws and regulations, in particular those on money laundering.” What happened? Daxim L. Lucas

Buy high, sell low

A relatively young politician and former Cabinet member (who had some involvement with a publicly listed firm) bought a painting supposedly made by renowned Filipino painter Juan Luna for P50 million—a bit higher than what the same artist’s long-lost and almost forgotten piece “¿A Do…Va la Nave?” reportedly fetched for in a recent public auction.

But lo and behold! The “prized” acquisition turned out to be fake despite some “authentication” done by a supposed art expert.

The politician must have been crestfallen since the seller was his own mother-in-law (who may have mistaken it for the real deal, too).

Word on the street is that the hoodwinked politician is now raring to get rid of the painting, whose presence in his new mansion in Quezon City serves as a grim reminder of an art investment turned sour. This is probably one of those rare cases when you buy high, sell low. Doris Dumlao—Abadilla

Bankers’ choice

If it were up to the professionals who handle other people’s money, Vice President Jejomar Binay is the last person they’d want to run the country.

In between exploring Bohol’s wonderful sites during a recent convention, members of the Fund Managers Association of the Philippines found time to conduct a mock poll among themselves and this was how the top contenders ranked:

Mar Roxas with 48 percent, Rodrigo Dutere with 24 percent, Grace Poe with 22 percent and Binay with 5 percent.

(They also voted for their top choice for vice president and Leni Robredo was the runaway pick with 71 percent with Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. with 11 percent, Alan Peter Cayetano with 9 percent and Chiz Escudero with 8 percent).

FMAP’s members handle between 30 percent and 40 percent of the Philippine Stock Exchange’s daily turnover.

Another group of financial brokers and treasury executives also held not one but two mock polls during the annual convention of ACI at Balesin Island owned by businessman Roberto V. Ongpin.

The first poll was made before the keynote speech of former Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Solita Monsod.

Duterte was first with 51 percent and he was followed by  Roxas with 45 percent, Grace Poe with 25 percent, Miriam Defensor Santiago with 4 percent, and Binay with 2 percent.

After listening to some pointers from “Mareng Winnie,” Roxas zoomed to the top with 69 percent followed by Duterte with 31 percent and Poe with 22 percent while Santiago and Binay fell to zero. Gil Cabacungan

And the winner is..

Tanco family-led STI Group has won the public bidding for a 40.1-hectare property owned by the Benitez group in Davao City with a bid of P300 million.

This is part of the foreclosure proceedings initiated by STI as a creditor of the Benitez family after their partnership in Philippine Women’s University turned sour.

A public bidding for the property was held in line with the extra-judicial foreclosure proceedings.  STI participated and thus won the bidding for the parcel of land.  The Benitezes have one year to redeem the property. Doris Dumlao-Abadilla

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TAGS: Bangladeshi central bank, funds, laundering, Makati City, RCBC, Rizal Commercial Banking Corp.
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