Was Deguito a scapegoat? Sotto wonders why others cleared in Bangladesh heist
Senate President Vicente Sotto III is not convinced that only one person is guilty of money laundering in connection with one of the world’s largest cyberheists in which $81 million was stolen from Bangladesh’s central bank in 2016 and ended up in a Philippine bank.
Reacting to the conviction of Maia Deguito, former branch manager of Rizal Commercial Banking Corp. (RCBC), the Senate leader said she shouldn’t have been the only one charged with the crime.
“The way I recall it, there were others who should have been charged eh as far as the Senate committee report was concerned. Nagtataka lang ako bat hindi kasama sa mga nacha-charge yung mga yun,” he told the Kapihan sa Senado forum last Thursday.
He said he was curious why officials of money transfer firm Philrem Service Corporation were let off the hook. During hearings of the Senate blue ribbon committee, Philrem was implicated in the heist that saw stolen funds end up in the Philippines.
Philrem executives were initially charged with money laundering but the Department of Justice reversed its decision in September 2017.
Sotto said he wondered why.
“Like yung Philrem. There are about 2 or 3 other personalities or companies or groups that were contained in the Senate committee report eh hindi na charge so I don’t know,” he said during the forum.
Sotto said Deguito’s conviction should serve as a warning to everybody.
“Maging warning na din sa lahat, and then there after siguro pag-aralan natin mabuti ang safety ng cyberspace sapagkat sa cyberspace alam kong ginawa yang pag nanakaw na yan eh,” he said.
“And as a matter of fact that is what a friend of mine from an international intelligence units told me that what the US really is afraid of now is a cyber-attack,” Sotto said.