A Makati court has found a former bank manager guilty of money laundering in relation to one of the world’s biggest ever cyber heists.
Maia Santos Deguito, a branch manager of the Rizal Commercial Banking Corp (RCBC) was found guilty on eight counts today (Thursday, January 10) in relation to the $81 million theft from Bangladesh’s central bank nearly three years ago.
In the first conviction related to the heist, the former branch manager was sentenced to a jail term ranging from 32 to 56 years. She was also ordered to pay a fine of about $109 million.
In February 2016, unknown criminals used fraudulent orders on the SWIFT payments system to steal funds from Bangladesh’s central bank account at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
The money was sent to accounts at a branch of RCBC in Manila then headed by Deguito, before it disappeared into Philippine casinos.
“Her declaration in open court that she has nothing to do with these transactions was a complete and comprehensive lie,” the court said in its 26-page ruling.
“The conviction of Deguito is consistent with the bank’s position that it is the victim in this situation and that Deguito is a rogue employee,” RCBC spokeswoman Thea Daep said in a statement.
Bank manager to appeal
Deguito said she was “utterly shocked” and intends to appeal at the Supreme Court. She will remain free on bail until the conviction is finalised.
In an interview with news channel ANC, her lawyer Demetrio Custodio said: “”I am disheartened to believe that due to the amount involved here, only a very lowly person is prosecuted by the government.
“There should be more people who should be more liable for this, other than a very lowly bank officer who has nothing to do with operational matters.”
RCBC was fined one billion pesos by the Philippine central bank in August 2016 for its failure to prevent the stolen money passing through its hands.
A former treasurer of RCBC and five other workers at the branch where the cash was withdrawn also face money laundering charges.
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