THIS IS THE SECOND CHRONICLE EDITORIALÂ Â on the US$81-M money laundering case because it is a criminal case that will greatly -gravely- impact the Philippines.
Weakness in our Â Anti-Money Laundering Law Â )AMLA) coupled with an over – strict Philippine Â Bank Secrecy Law (two of the only ones left in the world) would give the global impression that the nation favors the interest of crooks.
What kind of moral conscience would Â this country seem to have when its Congress actually exempted casinos from AMLA scrutiny(in 2013) Â because Â it will turn off the “high rollers in gambling”.Â What in the name of Bethseba are we pushing as our top industry in this country – gambling? That – Â while surrounding the fabled walls of the Solaire, Resort World,City of Dreams etc- the gambling castles- lay aghast Â thousands of decrepit houses lived in by squatters and the poorest of urban poor?
We know why it is called “money laundering”? It laundries “dirty money” – irons it- and spent like a “clean money” through the casinos and to shores unknown. Could you imagine how many billions had Â already been filtered through our banking system- until this busted deal- and only because it was a sovereign nation- Bangladesh- who complained that its hard-earned reserves were stolen off the New York banks?
(See One Voice column this issue) We had vouched for the strength of RCBC, owned by the Yuchengcos , to be able to Â withstand the whiplash of this cyber crime .But reports have it that precisely this same Â weakness of both (AMLA and Bank Secrecy) was used by an alleged Â dummy Â of one presidential candidate using the same Remittance Company and Commercial Bank Â to reportedly launder P3-B in funds in the past/ That is also close to P4-B (in the Bangladesh case) as fingered by senator Alan Cayetano.
Has the Philippines been money laundering all these years?
This could present a backlash against remittance companies bringing in foreign currency to the Philippines from of our OFWs. What if their remitting company gets caught by Philippine authorities ( helping in money laundering) and their assets frozen including the OFWs hard-earned dollars?
The Bank Secrecy Law has been Â used by disgraced and impeached Â former chief justice Renato Corona to hide his wealth. When the Law ordered his deposits finally Â frozen, almost 90% of them were reportedly already withdrawn from their previous high level.
Any high school kid who follows the story will Â verily say Â now-there should be amendments in the AMLA law to include casinos, real estate and others and to lift the bank secrecy law which has become the refuge of financial scoundrels. That’s stating the obvious, Watson.
If this is reallyÂ ” Matuwid na Daan”Â country , some persons should go to jail for this. The last press release from the Palace is that all government institutions will be used to find the culprits- no matter how high in society and nail them to the cross (figurative). Let us see.
Aside the questions we posed inÂ (One Voice this issue), there are a few others we need to add in search for answers:
RCBC CEO Lorenzo Tan had admitted to be friends with Kim Wong, the final junket games dispenser of the stolen loot (sic, on medical leave) pointed to by Sen Serge Osmena as the likely “brains of the conspiracy”. Branch manager Maia Dequito had pointed to him as “the engineer” in the opening of the Â alleged four Â fictitious Filipino names that helped served as conduits of the sophisticated laundering scheme. A newspaper account named Wong as a “valuable client” of RCBC.
Will Kim Wong ever show up in the hearings or investigation?Refusal to do so is a sure sign of guilt and can place the bank deeper in hot waters.
One RCBC Jupiter Â branch officer Romualdo S. Aggarado said the P 20-M for William So Go (yet another beneficiary) was loaded into Dequito’s car and the latter drove off with it; but Â another branch officer (deputy of Dequito) Angela Torres it was Go himself who received the cash and saw him when he lowered his passenger seat window. Go then filed a case versus Dequito for faking his dollar account opening. The day it occurred Â (February 5) the RCBC CCTV suddenly- conveniently- became defective.
Mr So Go also denied having any account in Jupiter but only in the Trinoma RCBC branch.
But officer Torres claims she had Â personally handled the accounts of Go in Jupiter who also sometimes Â withdrew some amount from his Â (Go’s) son’s deposit account in Jupiter.
Go accused Dequito of illegally opening his Â dollar deposit account in RCBC Jupiter by forging his signature; Dequito says he still has the text message of the RCBC CEO instructing her to facilitate the opening of Go’s dollar account. He and Dequito know Go. CEO Tan denies ever having transacted such details with Dequito.Â Â He Said, She Said Game.
It was also alleged that it was a certain James Go who allegedly made representation with the Â RCBC bank that Dequito be assigned to the Jupiter branch and not elsewhere. Who is this Go? Was Dequito being set up?
Answering these Â queries could unravel who are the Â real “Draculas” who are afraid of the light of truth. And this should Â help to bring Â those who should be brought to the bar of Â justice to prove that even sophisticated, high-brow crime Â in this country does not pay. Or that it should cost the perpetrators something they will regret for the rest of their Â frigging lives.
The next hearing is March 29- will something happen to the parties from here till that date? It’s like a novel of thrilling proportion.
Follow the details and learn a thing Â or two as to Â how to protect your own assets -and those of your loved ones in the future.
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