Three Filipino tourists accused of using a fake bank draft for US$5 billion were released by the Eastern Magistrates’ Court on Tuesday.
However, Magistrate Peter Law, saying he suspected a money laundering attempt, rejected an application from the lawyer for defendants Elmer Soliman, 57, and his son Eric Jude Soliman, 31, for “substantial” court costs.
The third defendant was Eliseo Martinez, 43, a municipal lawyer in Victoria, Tarlac.
The three were arrested by police for allegedly presenting a forged bank draft for US$5 billion at HSBC headquarters on Hong Kong Island when they visited Hong Kong in June.
In court, the prosecutor told Magistrate Law she was withdrawing the charge of “using a false instrument” against all three defendants due to insufficient evidence. She acknowledged the defendants went to the bank merely to verify whether the bank draft was genuine.
The defense lawyer said he was asking for costs for the Solimans, but the judge rejected that and said: “When you go to the bank with a huge amount, in this case, five thousand million US dollars, that is money laundering.”
The Filipinos were considering pursuing a civil claim.