The Department of Justice has junked the appeal of five officers of the Rizal Commercial Banking Corp. seeking to clear their names from criminal culpability for alleged violation of the Anti Money Laundering Act in connection with the $81-million cyber heist involving funds owned by Bangladesh Bank.
In a resolution signed by Assistant State Prosecutor Mary Jane Systat, the DOJ denied the motion for reconsideration of the five RCBC officials and instead upheld the application of the “willful blindness-doctrine” in finding probable cause to indict respondents Raul Victor Tan, the bank’s former head; National Sales Director Ismael Reyes, Regional Sales Director Brigitte Capiña, Customer Service Head Romualdo Agarrado and Senior Customer Relationship Angela Ruth Torres for violation of Republic Act 9160 or the Anti-Money Laundering Act of 2001.
The willful blindness-doctrine is defined as the deliberate avoidance or knowledge of a crime, especially by failing to make reasonable inquiry about suspected wrongdoing, despite being aware that it is highly probable.
“There is no better way to describe the acts if respondents Tan, Capiña, Reyes Agarrado and Torres than this,” the resolution stated.
The five RCBC officers had been accused of facilitating the suspicious transactions involving the accounts of a certain Michael Cruz ($6 million), Jessie Christopher Lagrosas ($30 million), Alfred Vergara ($20 million), and Enrico Vasquez ($25 million) despite stop payment requests from the Bangladesh Bank.
According to the DOJ, the respondents were found instrumental in the lifting of the temporary hold on the four beneficiary accounts of the international inward remittances of funds allegedly wrongfully taken from the Bangladesh Bank, and the withdrawal of such funds, among other acts.
The resolution found the five to have, among others, deliberately avoided knowledge of the crime, “by failing to make a reasonable inquiry about suspected wrongdoing, despite being aware that it is highly probable.”
“By the very nature of their work in handling millions of pesos in daily transactions, the degree of responsibility, care and trustworthiness expected of bank employees and officials are greater than those of ordinary clerks and employee,” the resolution said.
“Their complacent attitude in handling the suspicious remittances is unacceptable and rocked the integrity of our banking system,” stated the resolution, it added.
Earlier, RCBC Jupiter Branch Manager Maia Santos-Deguito was found guilty for eight counts of violation of the AMLA involving the Bangladesh Bank funds.
The DOJ said charges has been filed against the five RCBC officers before the Regional Trial Court of Makati City, Branch 141.