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Pregnant DH faces jail term for abetting money laundering

10 November 2016

Fan Ling Law Courts building.
By Vir B. Lumicao

A 37-year-old pregnant Filipina domestic worker faces imprisonment after being found guilty of money laundering.

Sancha Luz Medina was convicted of the charge of “aiding and abetting the dealing with property known or believed to represent proceeds of an indictable offense” by Magistrate Chan Tin-hoi in Fan Ling court on Nov. 9.

Medina claimed she had lent her ATM card  to a friend who, unknown to her, used it to receive money from illegal sources.

The magistrate set sentencing for Nov 23, saying she was aware that Medina, who was separated from her husband, was five months pregnant and needed to find help in managing her pregnancy.
In the meantime, Medina was remanded in custody.

Magistrate Chan said she could not accept the defendant’s claim that she lent her bank account to a friend named “Anna”, just because they both worked in Taiwan before Hong Kong and came from the same area in the Philippines.

The magistrate also said she did not believe the helper had no knowledge of what was taking place in her bank account during the month-long period that Anna borrowed her bank ATM card.

The case was uncovered in late October 2013 when a Mrs Chen, who owns the trading company Laveer, received an email from a Hong Kong company named Ryder reminding her about overdue payment for a purchased item.

Mrs Chen said she had already transferred the payment to Ryder’s bank account with the Bank of China. A bank investigation found the lost payment had been diverted to the account of Medina with Hang Seng Bank.

The investigation also uncovered a number of transfers and withdrawals of money totaling US$16,637, equivalent to HK$131,270 at the time from the defendant’s account between late October 2013 and November 2013.

Medina told Commercial Crime Bureau investigators she had only $20 in the account when she met Anna on Oct 23, as she had not used it for a long time. Medina said she lent the account to Anna who needed it for a bank loan.

The account was closed in February 2014 when the investigation got under way.
Magistrate Chan said investigators wanted to find out the relation of Medina to the people who were behind the money laundering.

The defendant knew Anna only for a short while and their telephone conversations were all about general topics relating to their work as domestic helpers, the magistrate said.

Chan said the investigators wanted to find out how Anna was able to forge Medina’s signature and use her bank account.

“The defendant was aware that Anna was using her account to receive money but did not monitor how the account was being used by her friend. By doing so, she was encouraging Anna to use her account for illegal transactions,” Chan said.
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