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Ombudsman probers: Corona wealth up to P677M

Corona to finally take witness stand on May 22

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12:05 AM May 17th, 2012

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May 17th, 2012 12:05 AM

Chief Justice Renato Corona. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

Chief Justice Renato Corona may have accumulated a total of P677 million in unexplained wealth, including “more or less” $10 million, from 2001 to 2012, investigators of the Office of the Ombudsman said in a report.

Corona is scheduled to finally take the witness stand at his trial in the Senate impeachment court on May 22 to answer the allegations against him.

The panel of investigators, formed by Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales to look into complaints that Corona may have accumulated ill-gotten wealth, summed up their findings as follows:

A net increase of P8,970,980 in Corona’s net worth.

A discrepancy of P36,770,878 in his bank deposits. [Deposits bigger than what’s in his SALN]

Dollar bank transactions of $10 million or P420 million from April 2003 to December 2011.

Peso bank transactions of P242 million from April 2003 to February 2012.

Less the combined income of Corona and wife Cristina of P30,369,120.13, his “total possible unexplained wealth” could total P677,372,738.22, the panel said.

“Analyzing the accumulated wealth of subject Corona for the period 2001-2010 by using the acquisition value of the acquired real assets, and the bank transactions in comparison to the supposed income earned and known income from 2001 to 2011, it is apparent that subject Corona has acquired wealth that is not commensurate to his known income,” the panel said.

In daughters’ name

Travels abroad by the Corona couple and properties registered in the name of their daughters, Ma. Charina and Ma. Carla, were not taken into account.

“The undersigned investigators respectfully submit that the foregoing findings may involve a violation of Republic Act No. 9160 as amended by RA 9194 (the Anti-Money Laundering Act). In addition, the acquisition of wealth of subject Corona appears to be grossly disproportionate to his known income as a public officer,” they said.

Belmonte

Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. furnished reporters a copy of the 20-page memorandum dated May 10, containing the report, forwarded by the panel of investigators to Morales. Belmonte was furnished a copy of the document by the Ombudsman on Friday.

The panel was composed of Christopher Soguilon, Ferdinand San Joaquin, Repicurus Charlo Salcedo, Rholie Besoña and Moses Buzmion.

It reported that Corona had a total compensation income of P27.1 million from 2002 to 2011, while his wife earned an income of P3.2 million as a member of the board of Camp John Hay Development Corp. from 2007 to 2010.

The panel placed the total income of the couple at P30.3 million.

Declared net worth

The investigators observed that Corona’s declared net worth of P13,698,000 in 2001 increased by P1 million in 2002, decreased by P7,608,920 in 2003 and remained the same in 2004.

His net worth increased by P1 million in 2005, by P1.2 million in 2006, by P1,499,000 in 2007, by P1.5 million in 2008, by P2 million in 2009 and by P8,379,900 in 2010.

The net increase in net worth was P8,970,980, the panel said.

As for Corona’s bank accounts, the panel reported these findings:

A PSBank account (Katipunan branch), opened on Jan. 26, 2009, had an opening balance of P2.1 million but had zero balance by the end of 2009.

A PSBank account, opened on Dec. 22, 2009, had an opening balance of P8.5 million and had a yearend balance of P12,580,316.56  in 2010.

A PSBank account, opened on Sept. 1, 2010, had an opening balance of P7,090,099.45 and had a yearend balance of P7,148,238.83 in 2010.

A PSBank account, opened on May 16, 2007, had an opening balance of P2 million. This was closed in October 2008.

A PSBank account, opened on March 4, 2010, had an opening balance of P3.7 million. This was closed in April 2010.

A PSBank account, also opened on March 4, 2010, had an opening balance of P3.7 million. This was closed also in April 2010.

A PSBank account, opened on July 23, 2010, had an opening balance of P7,370,438.65. This was closed in September 2010.

Express Teller checking account with Bank of Philippine Islands (Ayala Avenue, Makati City branch) had a yearend balance of P12,024,067.70 in December 2010.

Discrepancy

“The deposits in BPI and

PSBank are comparatively bigger than what he declared in his SALNs (statements of assets, liabilities and net worth) as cash,” the panel said, pointing out a total discrepancy of P36,770,878.35.

Based on the information obtained by Morales, the panel said it appeared that there were several dollar and peso bank transactions in Corona’s name.

The dollar bank accounts from April 14, 2003, to Dec. 22, 2011, amounted to “more or less $10 million,” while the peso bank transactions from April 16, 2003, to Feb. 9, 2012, totaled “more or less” P242 million, it said.

As for his real properties, the panel said Corona declared five properties in his 2010 SALN, including the sale of two parcels of land to pay the loans for condominium units.

Based on complaints

The panel initiated the investigation based on the complaints of several persons, including Akbayan party-list Rep. Walden Bello, Risa Hontiveros and Harvey Keh, among others, who were seeking a “lifestyle check” on Corona for possible ill-gotten wealth.

But considering that the documents attached to their complaints were newspaper clippings, the panel sought documents from the Office of the President, Supreme Court, House of Representatives Electoral Tribunal, Senate Electoral Tribunal, Senate, Bureau of Internal Revenue, Land Registration Authority, Bureau of Immigration, Securities and Exchange Commission, Department of Trade and Industry, Social Security System, and the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC), among other agencies.

With respect to Corona’s bank accounts, the panel sought the assistance of the AMLC, which required the panel to submit additional documents showing that Corona had committed an unlawful activity that would warrant the filing of an application for bank inquiry with a local court.

But the panel indicated that it was the Ombudsman who eventually obtained these documents from the AMLC. Morales said she asked AMLC for assistance.

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