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Fil-Am found guilty of trying to cash fake US$2B check

27 October 2018

Orosa will be sentenced at the District Court on Nov 12

By Vir B. Lumicao

 A Filipino-American woman has been convicted in District Court of “using a false instrument” for attempting to deposit a fake US$2 billion cashier’s check in a Hang Seng Bank branch in October last year.

Judge Charles Chan convicted Elena S. Orosa who stood emotionless at the dock on Oct 22, and set the sentencing for Nov 12 pending a background report. Orosa, who is said to hold a degree from a US university, was remanded in custody until then.

Chan rejected the defense case that Orosa, 57, had no intention to cash the check. He maintained that an offense had already been committed even if the check was not cashed.

He also dismissed Orosa’s claim that she did not know the check was fake before she tried to deposit it in the account of a certain Manish, alleged owner of Great Billion Hong Kong Ltd in the Hankow Road, Tsimshatsui branch of Hang Seng on Oct 18, 2017.

Chan said he did not believe that someone who studied at a US university like Orosa would not question why a friend would entrust a check with such a big amount to her.

The prosecution had said earlier that Orosa graduated with a BS Management degree at San Francisco State University. She was born in the Philippines but migrated to the US with her parents at age 5, and had acquired US citizenship.

Giving evidence in court, Orosa said she went to the bank before noon to deposit the check in Manish’s account at the request of her Filipino friend, Randy Songadan. She said Randy had no funds to come to Hong Kong so could not deposit the check personally.

The defense tried to show Orosa had unknowingly allowed herself to be used by other people for the transaction that would have caused the bank a US$2 billion loss had the check not been discovered as a forgery.

Orosa, during cross examination by defense lawyer John Hemmings, admitted that Randy was not the owner of the check. She said Randy mentioned in Whatsup messages about four days earlier that he had assets belonging to former president Ferdinand Marcos and that the US$2 billion was part of those assets.

Randy claimed a friend named Ed Frondoso had contacts in Central Bank who made the check to take money that “the old man” Marcos had kept in Hang Seng, Orosa said.

She also admitted that about four days because going to the bank, she had been in contact on Skype with Manish, who instructed her on where to deposit the check and to give the deposit receipt to Raveen Kumari, managing director of Great Billion in Hong Kong.

Orosa said after presenting the check to a bank staff named Liu, she and a friend, Filipina tourist Veronica Yambao, were told to sit in a waiting room while staff processed the check. They were arrested by police more than half an hour later.

In his ruling, Chan said he did not believe that Orosa did not know the check was fake before she tried to deposit it, adding any adult with a business sense would know it was a forgery.

He also rejected the defense claim of prejudice in how the bank staff at the counter handled the check after Orosa presented it. The judge said the staff was just performing his duty when he called the attention of his superior to the forgery.

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