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Elderly Pinay jailed over US$50M fake check case given only 2 years to live

16 October 2018

By Vir B. Lumicao

Prosecutors say they are considering dropping a case against an elderly Filipina tourist who allegedly tried to cash a fake US$50 million check because she was found with a rapidly growing brain tumor and has only two years to live.

A medical report presented to District Court on Oct 11 by the solicitor for Maria Ilao O. Gosilatar, 76, disclosed her condition.

Gosilatar, who is in custody, appeared in court with a large gauze bandage covering the left side of her head, indicating she had undergone a surgical procedure.

But the prosecution said it would seek a second opinion on the condition of Gosilatar, who has been detained since her arrest on Dec 9, 2016. The elderly woman’s trial on a charge of “using a false instrument” was originally set for Oct 26.

The prosecution told the judge that Gosilatar would return to the court on Nov 8, when the second medical report would be ready, to find out whether the case against her would be pursued.

If the case goes ahead, the three-day trial will be moved to Jan 28-31.

Gosilatar was arrested along with a local accountant on Dec. 9, 2016, when they went to the Hang Seng Bank head office along Des Veoux Road, Central to try to cash the US$50 million check.

A charity foundation in her name named Mama Mary 2000 International Foundation, allegedly received the check as a donation.

The case has been pending in District Court for trial as Gosilatar waited for more than a year before she could obtain a lawyer through Legal Aid.

Gosilatar, allegedly the chairwoman of the Bulacan-based charity group, told the court in a previous hearing that Philippine police had told her she had been conned.

Pinoy in US$50k ‘fake’ traveler’s checks to be tried

A Filipino male tourist accused of “using a false instrument” has decided to plead not guilty to a charge of trying to cash US$50,000 worth of allegedly fake traveler’s checks at a money shop in Central early this year

The lawyer assigned by Legal Aid to defend Noel Rambuyon told District Court Judge K.W. Kwok on Sept 27 that his client would plead not guilty.

Judge Kwok scheduled the trial for Mar 4 to 6, 2019.

The prosecution said it will present witnesses including bank staff, the arresting officer and forensic experts.

Rambuyon arrived as a tourist around the Lunar New Year this year.

Shortly after his arrival, he went to a money shop in Central to swap booklets of Thomas Cooke traveler’s checks amounting to US$50,000. Each check had a face value of US$1,000.

A police forensic examination found that the traveler’s checks were fake. This was later confirmed by Thomas Cooke, the London-based banking company that that used to issue the instruments.

Thomas Cooke, which has sold its foreign exchange operation to Travelex, said that since 2002, it had stopped printing the type of traveler’s checks that Rambuyon allegedly attempted to exchange.

On Sept 18, a magistrate at Eastern Court dismissed a charge of “using a false instrument” against three other Filipino male tourists who presented an allegedly fake US$5 billion bank draft to an HSBC staff in June.

Consul Paulo Saret, head of the assistance to nationals section, has sought legal advice to see if the earlier ruling could be used as a precedent for dismissing Rambuyon’s case. – Vir B. Lumicao

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