Filipino model guilty of faking banknotes

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District Court in Wan Chai

A 24-year-old Filipina, who was said to be working as a model, was found guilty of a charge relating to counterfeiting Hong Kong banknotes.

District Court Deputy Judge Lily Wong Sze-lai on July 12 convicted S. J. Legaspi of possessing counterfeit materials which were found in 2015 in the bedroom she shared with her boyfriend in their home in Kennedy Town.

Judge Wong said there was no dispute the equipment, materials including laptop computers, tablets, papers, printers, and bottles of ink were seized in the possession of the defendant and her boyfriend.

In convicting Legaspi, Judge Wong said the defendant’s allegations about her being unable to understand what was said to her and unaware of her rights during a video recording interview conducted by police were unbelievable. Legaspi was also provided an interpreter so she could understand the caution statement.

“The video recording interview was played in court and the defendant was willing and volunteered information [about the equipment and materials seized from her home],” said Judge Wong.

She also dismissed the evidence given by the defense witness, the defendant’s boyfriend, who said he only used the equipment, and the other gadgets to study the patterns of various banknotes because he was interested in skin tattoos.

However, Judge Wong said “one could see the sophisticated nature” of the patterns to “such minute details”.

Mitigating, Legaspi’s lawyer told the court his client had no prior conviction record, and at the time of her arrest, she was a “regular consumer of ice”, but said she has been clean since then. Legaspi would be sentenced on Aug. 1.

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