Bookstore manager fined HK$3,000 after taking cash forgotten in ATM

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The International Finance Centre mall in Central.

A Filipina was fined HK$3,000 after pleading guilty to taking HK$2,000 cash left by its owner at a bank telling machine in Central in 2018.

R. Bermillo, a bookstore manager who has lived in Hong Kong for 26 years, admitted to the charge read aloud before Magistrate Bina Chainrai at the Eastern Courts on Wednesday.

Bermillo, 50, was charged with taking HK$2,000 from a Bank of China ATM in the IFC Mall on Dec. 11, 2018.

The money belonged to a certain Lau Sum-yi who had forgotten to take the cash from the transaction, according to the prosecution. Lau had reportedly requested for a review of withdrawal records which revealed that the ATM had not kept the HK$2,000.

CCTV footage showed Bermillo had withdrawn money between 1:53 and 1:54 pm, with Lau following her. Bermillo had stayed near the ATM when a man had pointed to money Lau left at the ATM, which Bermillo then took.

The bookstore manager was arrested on June 8, 2020. Police searched her house in Ap Lei Chau and found the ATM card used in the transaction.

Bermillo’s defense lawyer said she was talking to someone else while withdrawing money, and took the money left at the ATM out of confusion after the man next to her notified her of it.

The lawyer argued that Bermillo’s actions were “completely out of character.” He also submitted a letter from the bookstore owner which vouched for her good character since the beginning of her stay.

The prosecution sought compensation for Lau’s stolen money. Chainrai imposed the HK$3,000 fine following the incident.