What Went Before: The closure of banks under Legacy Group
In December 2008, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) shut down 13 rural banks under the Legacy Group of Companies for being insolvent and for engaging in unsound practices.
The banks, which had a combined P14.03 billion in insured deposits in 132,642 bank accounts, were placed under the receivership of Philippine Deposit Insurance Corp. (PDIC).
The closure of the banks prompted the filing of a string of charges against Legacy group founder and owner Celso de los Angeles Jr. and other Legacy bank officials.
De los Angeles denied any wrongdoing and blamed interference by regulators, unfair media reporting, extortion and adverse global economic conditions for the closure of the rural banks.
On Jan. 5, 2009, the BSP filed 49 counts of falsification of public documents against 16 officers, employees and agents of several Legacy banks who allegedly forged documents to support fictitious loans. The BSP said the “loans” were not really applied for by real borrowers but were siphoned off for the personal gain of bank officials.
On Feb. 6, the BSP filed 116 counts of falsification of public documents against 18 officers, employees and agents of four Legacy banks.
On Feb. 11, the Bureau of Immigration barred De los Angeles from leaving the country.
On Feb. 13, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) filed criminal charges against De los Angeles and other officials of Legacy Consolidated Plans for offering and selling unregistered securities.
On Feb. 26, the BSP filed a P1-billion estafa case against De los Angeles and other company officials in the Department of Justice for swindling the public and for siphoning off deposits from the bank.
On the same day, the SEC filed two more criminal charges against the Legacy founder for duping hundreds of people with investment securities that were not registered with the corporate regulator.
On July 13, De los Angeles, who was confined at St. Luke’s Medical Center for throat cancer, was served a warrant of arrest for several estafa cases filed against him at the Cagayan de Oro Regional Trial Court. He, however, remained under hospital arrest for his chemotherapy sessions.
The Regional Trial Court in General Santos City, where De los Angeles had pending estafa cases, also allowed him to be put under hospital arrest.
On Aug. 3, 2010, De los Angeles was taken out of the hospital and detained at the Quezon City police station based on a warrant issued by the Regional Trial Court in Ormoc City, Leyte province, in relation to syndicated estafa charges filed against him by the BSP.
On Aug. 19, he was transferred to a jail compound in Ormoc City to face the charges against him.
But a day after his turnover, he was brought to Ormoc Sugar Planters Association-Farmer’s Medical Center after his petition to stay in a hospital for treatment was granted. He was later transferred to Divine Word Hospital in Tacloban City.
In February 2011, state prosecutors of Danao City, Cebu province, found probable cause to charge Legacy officials—led by De los Angeles —with syndicated estafa committed by the Rural Bank of Carmen, the group’s unit in the province.
In September, De los Angeles was excused from arraignment proceedings by the Regional Trial Court in Ormoc City after jail officials said he was too ill to travel from Tacloban to Ormoc. Lawrence de Guzman,Inquirer Research
Source: Inquirer Archives
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