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Fil-Am jailed 30 months for trying to deposit fake US$2B check

12 November 2018

A Filipina-American woman who tried to deposit a fake US$2 billion cashier’s check at a Hang Seng Bank branch in October last year has been sentenced in District Court to 2 years and 6 months in prison.
Elena S. Orosa, 57, who her lawyer said was a dual Filipino and American citizen, showed no emotion as Judge Charles Chan meted out the sentence before noon Nov 12.

Wanchai Tower, where the District Court is located.
Her lawyer, John Massie of Massie and Clements Solicitors, told The SUN he had yet to get advice from his client whether to appeal the case.

The gravity of the offense lies with the amount of the check and Orosa’s attempt to deposit it, the judge said. He said he was not convinced that other people were involved in the case as the defendant had alleged.
Chan said he did not believe the fake check was brought to Hong Kong by Orosa’s friend Veronica Yambao, who accompanied her to the Hang Seng Bank branch on Hankow Road in Tsimshatsui to make the deposit on Oct 18 last year.

The two were arrested when the bank staff receiving the check noticed it was a forgery. But the charge against Yambao was dropped, while Orosa was allowed to post bail after being held in custody for about three weeks.
The judge said the offense of “using a false instrument’ carries a maximum sentence of 14 years in jail.

Citing the sum of money involved and the international element in Orosa’s case, Chan said the appropriate sentence was 2 years and 6 months.

Chan rejected the defense claim that Orosa was not aware that the check was forged, and that she had no intention to cash it. He said the offense had been committed even if the transaction was unsuccessful.
Chan said he did not believe a US university-educated person like Orosa would not question why a friend would entrust to her such a check with a big amount.

Orosa tried to deposit the fake check in the account of a certain Manish, alleged owner of Great Billion Hong Kong Ltd in the Hankow Road, Tsimshatsui, branch of Hang Seng Bank on Oct 18, 2017. 

She said she did so at the request of a Filipino friend, Randy Songadan, who had no money to come to Hong Kong and deposit the instrument personally.

But on cross examination by prosecutor John Hemmings she admitted that Randy was not the owner of the check but a friend of a certain Ed Frondoso, who had contacts in Central Bank and had made the check to take money allegedly kept by late dictator Ferdinand Marcos in Hang Seng.

The judge, however, did not believe the defendant’s story.

Yambao, who flew to Hong Kong at the weekend for the sentencing of her friend, told The Sun she believed the Marcos angle of the story was true and regretted that the court did not give weight to Orosa’s testimony.

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