MANILA – The Pasay City Prosecutor’s Office ordered the filing of criminal charges against one of the individuals identified by Senator Richard Gordon in an ongoing Senate inquiry into the unregulated transport of ‘dirty money’ in and out of the country.
In a resolution dated February 24 released on Thursday, City Prosecutor Elmer Cris Rillo approved Senior Assistant City Prosecutor Ju-Haree Tolentino’s recommendation to charge Simon John Rodriguez for having failed to declare USD700,000 (around PHP35.4 million) in cash which he tried to bring into the country upon his arrival from Singapore last year.
Rodriguez is facing charges for violation of banking regulations, particularly Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) Circular No. 308, which requires any person who brings into or out of the Philippines foreign currency in excess of USD10,000 or its equivalent to declare the same in writing and to furnish information on the source and purpose of the transport of such currency.
Violation of the circular is penalized with fines of between PHP50,000 to PHP200,000 and/or imprisonment of two to ten years under Section 36 of Republic Act 7653 or the New Central Bank Act.
The charges stemmed from the inquest proceedings against Rodriguez upon the complaint filed by the Customs Police District – Enforcement and Security Service of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) District Office, through its terminal supervisor Tomas Maranan, who intercepted Rodriguez at the exit gate of the arrival area of Terminal 2 at around 2:20 p.m. on Sept. 26, 2019.
The prosecutors noted that the CCTV footage showed that Rodriguez directly proceeded to the exit gate of the airport terminal, went past the customs’ foreign currency declaration desk, customs examination area and customs x-ray area.
“Thus, the respondent fraudulently import(ed)… into the Philippines goods or the subject foreign currency,” prosecutors said.
Rodriguez, meanwhile, claimed that he was not able to accomplish the required customs declaration form because he was “blocked by Maranan”.
The prosecutors concluded that Rodriguez’s defenses “are evidentiary in nature which can be better appreciated in a full-blown trial.”
During the Senate inquiry, Gordon revealed that after the incident, Rodriguez was allowed to travel at least 40 more times in and out of the country transporting around USD32.6 million.
During the hearings, Customs officials also said a certain Elizabeth S. Rodriguez was able to bring in USD34.7 million from Singapore in 45 trips.
Other individuals likewise manage to slip in such amounts into the country, Gordon said, under the pretext of investing and playing in casinos. (PNA)