Preposterous, Ongpin says of Osmeña claim
Businessman Roberto Ongpin on Saturday described as “preposterous” Sen. Sergio Osmeña’s claim that Ongpin had engaged in “insider trading” when he accumulated Philex Mining Corp. (Philex) shares and sold them to businessman Manuel Pangilinan, and that he (Osmeña) had the proof in an affidavit that Pangilinan had submitted.
“I have a copy of Mr. Pangilinan’s affidavit, and nowhere does it say what Senator Osmeña is saying,” Ongpin said in a telephone interview from Hong Kong, where he was in transit en route to London.
“He should publish Mr. Pangilinan’s affidavit in full,” Ongpin said.
According to Ongpin, his second Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP) loan of P510 million was taken out on Nov. 4, 2009, to buy shares of Philex at P12.75 per share—the same price the stock was trading in the market that day.
He said the deal with Pangilinan was not firmed up until Dec. 2, 2009.
“To say that we knew it would go up to P21 per share at that point is preposterous,” Ongpin said.
‘Pangilinan contacted us’
The businessman said that contrary to what Osmeña claimed, it was Pangilinan who approached his nephew, Eric Recto, to acquire Ongpin’s Philex shares, and not vice versa.
“It was not us who contacted Mr. Pangilinan. It was Mr. Pangilinan who contacted Eric [Recto],” he said.
Recto, he said, was asked to see the telecommunications tycoon on Dec. 1, 2009, to discuss a possible deal, and it was not until the following evening that the particulars of the transaction were firmed up.
Meanwhile, Reynaldo David, the former DBP president, said there was “no insider trading whatsoever” in his dealings with Ongpin with respect to the Philex shares.
He debunked Osmeña’s claim that he and Ongpin had continued to trade shares of Philex even after a deal had been supposedly sealed between Ongpin and Pangilinan for the latter to acquire a majority stake in the mining giant.
“Whatever investment decisions we made [at DBP], we made based on publicly available information,” he said.
“And it was clear from his pronouncements that Mr. Pangilinan wanted to increase his stake,” David said.
Words were twisted
David pointed out that the deal for the takeover of Philex was a transaction solely between Pangilinan and Ongpin.
“DBP was not even sure our [Philex] stake would be bought by Pangilinan, too. It was only later that our participation [in the transaction] was firmed up,” he said.
The former DBP chief also pointed out that any Philex stock transaction made after the deal between Pangilinan and Ongpin was struck was between the bank and its wholly owned subsidiary, DBP Management Corp., in order to consolidate the ownership of shares into a single block.
“As the head of the DBP then, it was my job to make sure that the bank got the best possible deal, based on what we knew then,” David said.
Regarding Osmeña’s claim that he had bragged to the bank’s board members about the transaction he had engineered, David said his words were twisted out of context.
“Those words were spoken long after the deal was done, and it was made during light banter and in jest. The board members were asking me if they should buy shares for themselves, and I replied, ‘I’m available for consulting,’” he said.
“But as a concurrent independent director of Philex, I was very careful about revealing company issues to them,” he said.
David, who has endured heated questioning from the senators for his role in approving the bank loans to Ongpin, stressed that all transactions were made with the interest of the government financial institution in mind.
“What we had always done was to find transactions that would benefit the bank, and by extension, the government,” he said.
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