A liaison officer and secretary to the president of a chemical trader-distributor was convicted for fifty-five (55) counts of money laundering based on investigative findings of the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC).
In a fifty-six (56)-page Decision promulgated on 18 April 2018, Presiding Judge Caridad M. Walse-Lutero of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) in Quezon City, found Annabella C. Ylagan guilty beyond reasonable doubt for fifty-five (55) counts of money laundering, and sentenced her to seven (7) years’ imprisonment for each count.
The AMLC, the country’s financial intelligence unit (FIU) and enforcer of the Anti-Money Laundering Act of 2001, as amended (AMLA), proved that Ylagan transferred funds from her employer’s accounts in three (3) banks to a bank account she opened under fictitious bank accounts under the name “Lourdes R. Liu” and a company purportedly created by Ylagan. Ylagan’s modus operandi involved routing faxing of forged letters of authority, instructing banks to transfer funds from her employer’s accounts to her own fictitious accounts. Ylagan amassed Php12 million over a four (4)-year period.
Ylagan’s illicit scheme was exposed when an account officer of bank where her company maintained accounts phoned the company to verify a fund transfer in favor of one of her companies. Because Ylagan was not at the office at the time, one of her colleagues took the call. Eventually, it was discovered that the company never approved the transfers: there were no documents to back up the transfers. The company president was alerted, and investigations into Ylagan’s transactions were conducted.
Ylagan admitted in writing to executing the fund transfers and opening fictitious accounts. The company promptly charged Ylagan for two separate crimes: Qualified Theft, and Qualified Theft through Falsification of Private Documents. The courts convicted Ylagan guilty as charged. Moreover, she was also ordered to pay the company Php9,852,722.55, representing actual damages that the company suffered based on the evidence it offered.
Executive Director Mel Georgie B. Racela of the AMLC Secretariat stated, “Fifty-five (55) convictions, by any stretch, is a sterling accomplishment of the AMLC. We commend the investigators, prosecutors and lawyers who have handled this case, and very much appreciate the cooperation extended by Ylagan’s former employer in providing the evidence to convict her. We see here a kind of shared interest and cooperation between the AMLC and the company, which was very interested in seeing the case through. The AMLC is very committed to prosecuting money laundering as these convictions show. Crime does not pay, and should never be made to pay. Ylagan made a choice: amass wealth and use the banks to hide her wealth. Tarnishing the integrity of the financial system has a cost: Ylagan paid for it very dearly.” Ylagan is now serving her sentence at the Correctional Institute for Women.
As of April 2018, the AMLC has secured convictions for no less than ninety-two (92) counts of money laundering. Those convicted include drug dealers, illegal job recruiters, fraudsters, kidnappers, bankers and corrupt officials, to name a few. Through the efforts of the AMLC, millions of pesos and US dollars, and countless properties have also been forfeited and frozen in favor of the government.
At present, the AMLC has nineteen (19) pending complaints for money laundering before the Department of Justice; one (1) pending complaint for money laundering before the Office of the Ombudsman for preliminary investigation; and twenty-two (22) money laundering charges with the trial courts. More convictions are expected to be handed down within the year.