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Pinoy tourist in US$943 billion fake deposit scam pleads not guilty

10 September 2019

District Court

By Vir B.Lumicao
 
An elderly Filipino tourist insisted to see HSBC’s regional head after being told a deposit slip for US$943 billion that he and an unidentified accomplice had presented was fake. But they left hurriedly when they heard police were coming.
 
This was revealed by the first witness in the three-day trial of Brudencio J. Bolaños which got underway in District Court in Wanchai on Sept 9.
 
Bolaños, 62, pleaded not guilty to a charge of using a false instrument before Judge Stanley Chan.

The first witness against him was identified as as HSBC bank executive Cheung Wan-yuet.
 
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Bolaños was arrested on Apr 9, 2018 after he and his companion went to the fifth-floor counters of the HSBC head offices on 1 Queensway, Central, and presented to staff the deposit slip purportedly issued by the bank on Jul 25, 1983

Cheung said she invited Bolaños and his unidentified companion, who she said looked like a Malaysian and spoke Cantonese and English, to the interview room after the counter staff passed the spurious document to her.
 
When told the deposit slip was fake, the defendant allegedly insisted he talk to the regional head of global banking, a certain Ms Chen, who, he said, was “more knowledgeable and capable” than Cheung.
 
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But when the two men heard the police were coming, they left the room and headed for the lower floors. Cheung said she told the officers the man with the fake document was already on the fourth floor. The police collared Bolaños but his companion escaped.
 
Judge Chan was visibly disappointed at the first prosecution witness, saying the bank executive was “able to give only few details of the case” as she was mostly replying “Sorry, I can’t remember” or “I am not sure.”
 
When Judge Chan queried whether she asked the two men for their name cards, she replied “No.” 


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But, when asked about whether she asked for their passports, she said, “Yes. Both of them.” Asked if she photocopied the passports, she said “No.”
 
Defense counsel Elizabeth Herbert asked Cheung only one question, if she asked Bolaños what the documents were. The defendant reportedly answered that the deposit slip was given by his mother to him after depositing the money in his account.
 
Cheung said the bank’s records showed Bolaños had no HSBC account.
 
The second witness, officer Deng Tsz-teng, said when he arrested Bolaños, the defendant had 10,000 Japanese yen and PhP240.25 in his possession. The defendant had no mobile phone and was in a black business suit and a blue shirt.
 
The officer said he did not handcuff the defendant.
 
Judge Chan adjourned the trial until Sept 11 when told by the prosecutor that his third witness, government psychiatrist Dr Chan, was on a holiday and would be available only on that day. The court will also hear an HSBC document expert’s report.
 
In the meantime, Bolaños was remanded in custody.
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