Senate to look into phone records of key players

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The Senate will look into the phone records of key players in the alleged laundering of $81 million in an effort to clarify their continued contradictory testimonies on who had received the funds and given orders on the delivery of the money.

Casino junket operator Kim Wong, former Rizal Commercial Banking Corp. (RCBC) branch manager Maia Santos-Deguito and Philrem president Salud Bautista agreed to let the Senate check their phone records upon the suggestion of Sen. Bam Aquino.

This developed as Philrem messenger Mark Palmares testified on Tuesday, April 19, that he could not say if the P600 million and $18 million he had delivered to his bosses had really been given to Weikang Xu, as they had attested to in earlier Senate hearings.

Salud and her husband, Philrem treasurer Michael Bautista, continued to insist that they had given the cash to Xu and had received instructions to do so from Deguito over the phone.

But Wong maintained it was he who had received the bulk of the funds and were told by the Bautistas to pick them up.

Deguito also disputed the Bautistas’ statement that she had directed them to deliver the cash to Xu.

Palmares, a “stay in” messenger in the Greenhills house of Salud Bautista’s father, told the Senate that he had delivered cash in pesos and dollars to Solaire casino on Feb. 5 and to the Bautistas’ residence from Feb. 9 to 13.

Those were the largest deliveries he had ever handled and were unusual compared with his regular assignments in his seven years with the remittance firm, he said.

The Bautistas told him that Xu would be the beneficiary of the money, Palmares said, and he wrote the name on the receipts. But it was the Bautistas who were supposed to give the receipt to the beneficiary, he added.

The messenger has not met Xu and does not know what he looks like, he said upon Aquino’s questioning.

“The instruction is that she and Mr. Concon (Michael’s nickname) would have (the money) received and would face the beneficiary. I just delivered the money,” he said.

Palmares also submitted an affidavit to the Senate detailing his delivery of cash to Solaire and to the Bautistas’ residence, but the notary public who supposedly verified the document, Renato de Jesus, denied signing it.

Palmares, though, said he had gone to the notary public’s office in Pasig City to swear to his affidavit. Senators proceeded to question him on its contents.

The agreement to look into the phone records came as Wong testified that it was Michael Bautista who called him up to tell him that there was money ready for pickup at his house.

After Wong, Deguito and Salud Bautista gave their consent, Sen. Teofisto Guingona III directed the secretary general to get their waivers to allow the scrutiny of their phone records. Inquirer.net