COA flags court funds with local gov’ts
State auditors have called out the Supreme Court for entrusting P84.42 million in bail bonds and sheriffs’ fees to local government treasurers instead of depositing it in authorized government depository banks (AGDB).
In a 2019 audit report on the high court, the Commission on Audit (COA) said this “deprived the government of interest income due and exposed the funds to possible risk of loss or misuse.”
A 1995 circular issued by the Office of the Court Administrator requires that interests earned on the deposit of all collections from bail bonds, rental deposits, and other fiduciary collections shall accrue to the national government’s general fund.
Remitted to Treasury
The interest should be withdrawn after the end of each quarter and remitted to the National Treasury.
The circular provides that in areas where there are no Land Bank of the Philippines branches, the fiduciary collections shall be deposited by the clerk of court to the local treasurer.
The audit report noted that such funds have grown to P84.42 million as of December 2019.
The Supreme Court explained that 56 out of the 119 courts that entrusted collections to local treasurers have transferred their funds to LandBank and that records will be adjusted accordingly.
The COA noted the high court’s effort to reconcile and transfer the fiduciary funds and sheriffs’ trust funds from local treasurers to LandBank, but there were “19 courts with a distance of 25 kilometers or less from a [LandBank]/AGDB should effect the transfer of the funds.”
“However, interests earned thereon were uncertain as no report was received on this from the management. If the funds were deposited with the [LandBank] or other AGDB, interest income should have been earned,” the report said.
This amount includes bail bonds from the lower courts worth P80.878 million, and sheriffs’ fees worth P3.544 million. These were collected from litigants by special collecting officers of lower courts nationwide.
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