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Ex-RCBC manager found guilty for money laundering

by admin   |   Posted on Thursday, January 10th, 2019

FILE PHOTO: Former RCBC Makati branch manager Maia Deguito

MANILA, Philippines — On the 26-page decision of Makati Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 149, former RCBC Makati branch manager Maia Deguito was found guilty on eight counts of money laundering.

This is in relation with the 81-million dollar alleged smuggled money from Bangladesh Bank through the said branch.

It will be recalled that, on February 16, 2016, Bangladesh Bank was hacked and the 81 million dollars reached the country though the payment instruction received by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

Deguito has been sentenced to four to seven years imprisonment.

Atty. Demetrio Custodio Jr., the legal counsel of Deguito, said that they will appeal the decision of the court since it is not yet final and executory. — Grace Casin | UNTV News & Rescue

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Three Filipinos indicted in US for jewelry fraud

by Robie de Guzman   |   Posted on Friday, March 8th, 2019

Silver Jewelry Designed by Artists

Posted by Scottsdale Jewels on Saturday, 4 August 2018

One of the jewelry stores that were accused of selling fake Indian products in Scottsdale, Arizona.

Three Filipinos were among the seven people indicted before a federal grand jury in Phoenix, Arizona in the United States for fraudulently selling jewelries imported from the Philippines and passing it off as made by Native-Americans.

In a statement issued on Friday (March 8), the United States Department of Justice (US DoJ) said the conspirators had been operating the fraudulent scheme for several years, which is in violation of federal laws, including the Indian Arts and Crafts Act (IACA).

The indicted Filipinos, identified as Mency Remedio, a factory Manager, and Ollando Abellanosa and Ariel Adlawan Canedo, who worked as jewelry smiths in the Philippines, are all facing multi-year fraud and money laundering charges.

Also named as defendants were American Nationals Richard Dennis Nisbet, his daughter Laura Marye Lott; Christian Coxon and Waleed Sarrar, who conspired with others to pass off imitation jewelry manufactured abroad as authentic Native American-made jewelry.

In its report, the Department said Lott allegedly delivered the jewelry to retail stores in Arizona, Texas, and other states and collected payments. 

Coxon was the owner and operator of Turquoise River Trading Company, a jewelry store in San Antonio, Texas that claimed to specialize in Indian-made jewelry; while Sarrar owned and operated Scottsdale Jewels LLC, a jewelry store in Scottsdale, Arizona that advertised as selling authentic Indian-made jewelry.

“The defendants and their conspirators used various jewelry businesses—including Last Chance Jewelers and LMN Jewelers—to design and manufacture jewelry in the Native-American style at factories in the Philippines where Filipino jewelry-makers made all of the jewelry,” it added.

The conspirators allegedly took several measures to ensure that the jewelry resembled authentic Native American-made jewelry, including copying jewelry designs from genuine Native American artists, using traditional Native American motifs and symbols in the jewelry, and stamping the jewelry with the initials of alleged Native American artists, the Justice Department said.

Manufactured jewelry was then imported into the US through FedEx, or smuggled into the mainland by hand or through the Philippines Postal System, to end destinations in Arizona, it said.

The indictment alleges that none of these jewelry items were indelibly marked with the country of origin as required by customs law. 

IACA prohibits the offer or display for sale, or the sale of any good in a manner that falsely suggests that it is Indian produced, an Indian product, or the product of a particular Indian and Indian tribe. 

The law provides critical economic benefits for Native American cultural development by recognizing that forgery and fraudulent arts and crafts diminish the livelihood of Native American artists and craftspeople by lowering both market prices and standards.

The US DoJ clarified that an indictment is merely an allegation.  All defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law. – Robie de Guzman

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Bangladesh to sue Manila bank over $81-million heist

by UNTV News   |   Posted on Thursday, February 8th, 2018

Commuters pass by the front of the Bangladesh central bank building in Dhaka March 8, 2016. REUTERS/Ashikur Rahman/File Photo

DHAKA (Reuters) – Bangladesh’s central bank will file a lawsuit against a Philippines bank over its role in one of the world’s biggest cyber-heists two years ago, a deputy governor said on Wednesday.

Unidentified hackers stole $81 million from Bangladesh Bank’s account at the New York Fed in February 2016, using fraudulent orders on the SWIFT payments system.

The money was sent to accounts at Manila-based Rizal Commercial Banking Corp (RCBC) (RCB.PS) and then disappeared into the casino industry in the Philippines.

“Bangladesh Bank will file a lawsuit in a New York court within two to three months in connection with the reserve theft,” central bank deputy governor Abu Hena Mohd. Razee Hassan told Reuters.

“We are in talks with the Federal Reserve Bank and SWIFT to join us as they are also victims,” he added.

For its part, RCBC said the cyber heist was an inside job and Bangladesh Bank was engaging in a cover-up by maligning it.

“Bangladesh Bank should stop making RCBC its scapegoat,” the Philippine bank said in a statement. “RCBC has revealed everything it legally could to the Senate and to the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas,” referring to the Philippine central bank.

SWIFT spokeswoman Natasha de Teran declined comment, saying SWIFT does not comment on customers.

Reuters reported in December that Bangladesh Bank had asked the New York Fed to join a lawsuit it was considering filing against RCBC seeking damages.

After two years, there is no word on who was responsible and Bangladesh Bank has been able to retrieve only about $15 million, mostly from a Manila junket operator.

The Philippine central bank fined RCBC a record one billion pesos ($20 million) in 2016 for its failure to prevent the movement of the stolen money through it.

RCBC has blamed rogue employees and Philippine prosecutors have filed money laundering charges against a former RCBC bank manager and four people who owned the bank accounts where the funds were sent, but are not identifiable since the accounts were in fake names. They are the only people to be formally cited anywhere in the world in association with the crime.

RCBC has said it would not pay any compensation to Bangladesh Bank and the Dhaka bank bore responsibility for the theft since it was negligent.

Reporting by Ruma Paul; Additional reporting by Neil Jerome Morales in Manila and Jim Finkle in Toronto; Editing by Clarence Fernandez and Toby Chopra

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South Korea to ban cryptocurrency traders from using anonymous bank accounts

by UNTV News   |   Posted on Tuesday, January 23rd, 2018

FILE PHOTO: A man walks past an electric board showing exchange rates of various cryptocurrencies at Bithumb cryptocurrencies exchange in Seoul, South Korea, January 11, 2018. REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji/File Photo

SEOUL (Reuters) – South Korea will ban the use of anonymous bank accounts in cryptocurrency trading from Jan. 30, regulators said on Tuesday in a widely telegraphed move designed to stop virtual coins from being used for money laundering and other crimes.

The measure comes on top of stepped up efforts by Seoul to temper South Koreans’ obsession with cryptocurrencies. Everyone from housewives to college students and office workers have rushed to trade the market despite warnings from global policymakers about investing in an asset that lacks broad regulatory oversight.

The bitcoin price in South Korea extended loss following the latest regulatory announcement, down 3.34 percent at $12,699 as of 0409 GMT, according to Bithumb, the country’s second-largest virtual currency exchange.

Bitcoin BTC=BTSP slumped nearly 20 percent last week to a four-week low on the Luxembourg-based Bitstamp exchange, pressured by worries over a possible ban on trading the virtual asset in South Korean exchanges. In Tuesday afternoon trade, it was up 5.4 percent at $10,925.

Policy makers around the world are calling for tougher, coordinated regulation of cryptocurrency trading. South Korea’s chief financial regulator last week said the government may consider shutting down domestic virtual currency exchanges.

South Korea’s Presidential office has clarified that an outright ban on trading on the virtual currency exchanges is only one of the steps being considered, and not a measure that has been finalized.

“The government is still discussing whether an outright ban is needed or not, internally,” a government official who declined to be named said after Tuesday’s briefing.

Over the past month, government statements have underscored differences between the Justice Ministry, which has pushed for a more hardline approach, and regulators who have shown a reluctance to enforce an outright ban.

Starting Jan. 30, cryptocurrency traders in South Korea will not be allowed to make deposits into their virtual currency exchange wallets unless the names on their bank accounts matches the account name in cryptocurrency exchanges, Kim Yong-beom, vice chairman of the Financial Services Commission told a news conference in Seoul.

“Everyone knew this was coming, as the government already said they will enforce the real-name system before. Rather, I can see this as a chance to go in, not out. I don’t see any reason to take my money out,” said a local bitcoin investor who only agreed to be identified by his family name Ahn.

The regulator has previously said it will come up with detailed guidelines for local banks to properly identify its clients by their real names in cryptocurrency transactions.

To make deposits into virtual coin wallets, cryptocurrency traders will need to identify themselves with their real names at the exchange and have those matched with information at local banks by Jan. 30.

Reporting by Cynthia Kim; Additional reporting by Dahee Kim; Editing by Sam Holmes & Shri Navaratnam

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