August 18, 2016 / 7:42 AM / 3 years ago

Philippine ex-bank manager out on bail in case linked to cyber heist

MANILA (Reuters) - A Philippine court on Thursday released on bail a former branch manager of a Manila bank in a perjury case linked to the world’s largest known cyber bank heist, police said.

Maia Santos Deguito, a branch manager of the Rizal Commercial Banking Corp (RCBC) gestures as she testifies during a Senate hearing of money laundering involving $81 million stolen from Bangladesh's central bank, at the Philippine Senate in Manila April 19, 2016. REUTERS/Erik De Castro

Unknown criminals tried to steal nearly $1 billion from the Bangladesh central bank account at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York in February and succeeded in transferring $81 million to four accounts at Rizal Commercial Banking Corp (RCBC) in Manila.

Maia Deguito, a former manager of an RCBC branch in Manila, helped arrange the deposit and withdrawal of the money but says she was only following orders from her superiors and denies wrongdoing.

Deguito posted bail of a 6,000 pesos ($130) on Thursday, Makati police chief Rommel Mitra said.

Deguito also faces money laundering and falsification of documents complaints at the Department of Justice for opening five bank accounts at the bank branch last year.

She said a Manila-based Chinese casino junket operator had asked to open the accounts. The stolen funds were deposited in four of the accounts and ended up in casinos which are not covered by the anti-money laundering law.

Only about $18 million has been recovered.

Deguito’s lawyer, Ferdinand Topacio, said she had no idea who filed the perjury case.

“We have never heard about it until tonight,” he told broadcaster ABS-CBN on Wednesday night after she was arrested. “This is pure harassment. Her rights were violated.”

ABS-CBN said the perjury case was filed by former RCBC president Lorenzo Tan.

In April, Tan filed a civil complaint against Deguito alleging abuse of rights and defamation after she told a congressional hearing that Tan was aware of the opening of the five questionable accounts at her branch.

Reporting by Manuel Mogato; Editing by Nick Macfie

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