Ex-central bank exec fails bid to halt extraditionBy Tetch Torres
MANILA, Philippines–The Court of Appeals has upheld a Manila Court’s decision granting the request of the Hong Kong government for the extradition of a former official of the Central Bank of the Philippines (now Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas) who is facing a criminal suit for allegedly receiving illegal payments from a subsidiary of the Standard Chartered Bank.
In a 32 page decision dated Aug. 30, 2012 but made public Tuesday, the appeals court 6th division through Associate Justice Hakim Abdulwahid dismissed the appeal filed by Juan Antonio Muñoz, former head of the Central Bank’s (now BSP) Treasury Department that questions the Manila Regional Trial Court Branch 8′s Nov. 28, 2006 ruling.
The Manila Court ruled for Muñoz’ extradition saying the documents submitted by the Hong Kong government is in compliance with the requirements of the RP-Hong Kong Extradition Treaty.
The lower court added that it has no jurisdiction on Muñoz’ defenses because its authority is limited to determining whether the extradition request complies with the extradition treaty and whether the person sought is extraditable.
In its decision, the appeals court agreed with the Manila Court when it dismissed Munoz argument that the RP-HK agreement no longer exists after Hong Kong became part of China on July 1, 1997. He further argued that his extradition would mean the Philippines would turn him to a third State-China which is not part of the RP-HK agreement.
The appeals court explained that even if Hong Kong became part of China, it is “still empowered to enter into international agreements including extradition treaties in its own name.”
“It is thus misplaced for [Munoz] to claim interruption in the affectivity of the treaty and expect further state action from either Hong Kong or China beyond the explicit pronouncements,” the appeals court said.
“Clearly, it would be most unfair to prevent [Hong Kong] from resorting to the extradition of [Munoz] on the imagined lack of reciprocity because, aside from the unequivocal declaration of China’s intention to allow Hong Kong to honor the treaty,” the appeals court said adding that the Philippines already benefited from it with the extradition of Alfredo Tiongco and Calvin de Jesus Tan.
He added that the crime he is facing in Hong Kong has no equivalent offense in the Philippines which is a requirement under the country’s extradition law.
But the appeals court said the crime of accepting an advantage as an agent and conspiracy to defraud for which Munoz was charged in Hong Kong is equivalent to swindling (estafa) and violation of Republic Act 3019 or the Anti-Graft Law.
It added that Munoz’ defenses should better be heard in a full blown trial
The case in Hong Kong came to the knowledge of the BSP in 1994 when then Governor Gabriel Singson received information that Munoz had allegedly received illegal payments while doing business with Moccatta Hong Kong on behalf of BSP.
The case of Munoz prompted the BSP to improve its internal controls and its reporting and monitoring systems to prevent direct dealings as those done by Munoz.