A FORMER bank officer yesterday testified she received money on three occasions from the former Central Bank employee Philip Bobongi who is facing criminal charges.
Christina was giving evidence in the trial involving the theft of more than $1 million of muted notes from the Central Bank of Solomon Islands.
The former CBSI currency officer is standing trial for allegedly stealing more than $1.7 million of muted notes from the bank between 2007 and 2009.
In her testimony in the High Court yesterday, Christina who was a former employee of ANZ, Panatina Branch, said Bobongi make some deposits at the Panatina Branch in October 2008.
“I came from home to the bank and he was waiting for me outside the bank.
“He passed the cash to me and I went in and made a deposit.”
The court heard that she was related to the accused.
The amount of the first deposit was $50,000.
When asked on her observations of the notes handed to her, she said the notes were mixed.
“Some of the notes were muted while some are usable.
“I take the money from Bobongi, went to my cash booth, verify the amount and put it in bulks before giving it to the cashier,” she said.
According to her evidence, Bobongi on two other occasions on November 2008 and February 2009 handed her separate amounts of $65,000 and $50,000.
When asked by the Director of Public Prosecutor Ronald Bei Talasasa why she accepted the money from Bobongi seeing that they were of large amounts and why she did not ask Bobongi to deposit the money himself, she said it was because Bobongi was his uncle that she cannot refuse what he asked her to do.
She also told the court since the money deposits were large, she asked her colleagues to help her verify the money before depositing it.
When the DPP asked her if any of her colleagues ever asked who the money belonged to, she said she told them it was her uncle’s.
The witness was also shown exhibits of bank documents that she verified.
When asked again by the DPP if she asked herself what was in her mind when she saw large amounts of money given to her by Bobongi outside of the bank, she said since her uncle owned a trade-store, a pickup truck and a car, it was reasonable for her uncle to be in possession of such amounts.
“I also heard from one of my sisters living with Bobongi that he won a house through tender and I thought part of the money was from the sale of the house.”
Bobongi was accused of stealing the money when the bank was in the process of destroying the muted notes.
He is facing 38 counts of money laundering and two counts of larceny & embezzlement.
Prosecution alleged Bobongi on various occasions deposited certain amounts into his Bank of South Pacific (BSP) Australia and New Zealand (ANZ) accounts and that of his wife’s.
It was also alleged that part of the money was used by Bobongi to pay for properties.
Some of the muted notes were allegedly found in his brief case when police searched his house.
The trial continues today before Justice Leonard Maina.
Bobongi is represented by Wayne Ghemu and Sevuloni Valenitabua of Public Solicitor’s Office while Mr Talasasa and crown prosecutor Maito’o Hauirae appeared for the state.
By ASSUMPTA BUCHANAN