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Judge reserves judgment in biggest fake bank instrument case

20 November 2019

By The SUN
Bolaños reportedly believed the US$943billion came from Marcos

The fate of a 70-year-old Filipino tourist who presented a fake deposit slip for US$943billion at the HSBC main office in Central in April last year will be known on Dec. 30.

District Court Judge Stanley Chan set the date for his verdict at the close of the trial today, Nov. 20, of Brudencio J. Bolaños, on a charge of using a false instrument.

The charge said Bolaños had tried to convince a bank frontline staff that the instrument  was genuine. If the staff believed this, other people would have been put at risk.
Bolaños, who is being held without bail, has denied the charge. He also chose not to give evidence.

His case involved the biggest monetary value for a spurious instrument to have been presented to a bank in Hong Kong. As in most of the other cases, the bank deposit slip was linked to the fabled hidden treasure of ousted Philippine President, Ferdinand E. Marcos.

Bolaños’ lawyers had earlier tried to halt the trial on the ground that a psychologist’s report stated that he was suffering from “delusional disorder” but Judge Chan rejected the application.
The psychologist said in the report that Bolaños believed former President Marcos had given him the money, and that it was insured in London.

But Judge Chan had said that the evidence so far presented in court, including the testimony of the HSBC executive who interviewed Bolaños, indicated that the defendant knew from the beginning the document was fake.

The judge said he had considered HSBC assistant manager Cheung Wan-yuet’s statement that the bank never issued a receipt for the US$943 billion supposedly deposited in the defendant’s account by a Marcos foundation on Jul 25, 1983.
Bolaños was arrested on Apr 9, 2018 after he and an unidentified companion went to the fifth-floor counters of the HSBC head offices in Central, and presented the deposit slip.

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 that the deposit slip was fake, the defendant allegedly insisted on talking to the regional head of global banking, a certain Ms Chen, saying she was  “more knowledgeable and capable” than Cheung.

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 showed displeasure at Cheung’s testimony, 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.”  She also said she asked for both their passports but did not photocopy them.

When asked by defense counsel Elizabeth Herbert if she asked Bolaños what the documents were, Cheung said the defendant told her the deposit slip was given by his mother to him after depositing the money in his account.

But 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 trial first opened on Jul 17 and had to be postponed a few times because some witnesses for the prosecution were not available.
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