Filipino banker Maia Deguito’s plea rejected

Maia Santos Deguito, a branch manager of the Rizal Commercial Banking Corp (RCBC) takes an oath during a money laundering hearing at Senate in Manila 15 March, 2016Reuters

The Court of Appeals of the Philippines has rejected the appeal of former branch manager of Rizal Commercial Banking Corporation (RCBC), Maia Santos Deguito, who is convicted in a case filed in connection with the US$ 81 million cyber heist from Bangladesh Bank reserve.

The Appeal court has upheld his sentence of four to seven years in prison in different cases given by the trial court, reports CNN Philippine. The Court of Appeals dismissed Maia Deguito’s appeal seeking cancellation of her sentence in a 58-page verdict published on Wednesday.

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In her appeal, Maia Santos Deguito said that the sentence given by the trial court was based on a misunderstanding regarding the allegations of money laundering raised against her. She also termed the conviction against her that she allowed the transaction despite knowing it’s illegal as ‘assumptive’ in the appeal.

However, the Court of Appeals of the Philippines dismissed Maia Heguito’s plea saying that she was not just another employee of the RCBC. The transaction was possible because of the account she opened.

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The trial court verdict said Maia Deguito was involved in smooth implementation and coordination of this illegal bank transaction. Deguito was found guilty of money laundering in all the eight allegations brought against her. Now the Court of Appeals upheld the verdict of the trial court.

She was sentenced to four to seven years in prison on each count of violation of the Anti-Money Laundering Act. She was also fined with $ 109 million.

Earlier, a total of US$ 101 million was stolen from the reserve of Bangladesh Bank on the night of 4 February 2016. The reserve was kept in the Federal Reserve Bank of New York in the US. Of this, some $ 81 million was transferred to the Rizal Bank of Philippine. The money was then promptly transferred to multiple accounts under four fictitious names at the RCBC branch on Jupiter Street in Makati City following the illegal transaction.

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Maia Santos Deguito, as the manager of the Makati branch of RCBC, was directly involved in the money-laundering.

Although the major portion of the money stolen from BB reserve was transferred to the Philippines, some $20 million was sent to Sri Lanka. Bangladesh, later, recovered that $20 million from Sri Lanka. However, most of the money that was transferred to the Philippines has not been recovered yet.