Corona closes 3 accounts on day he was impeached | Inquirer News

Corona closes 3 accounts on day he was impeached

By: - Deputy Day Desk Chief / @TJBurgonioINQ
/ 12:41 AM February 17, 2012

Supreme Court Chief Justice Renato C. Corona. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

Chief Justice Renato Corona closed three time deposit accounts with the Philippine Savings Bank (PSBank) on the same day House lawmakers filed an impeachment complaint against him in the Senate in December in a bid “to conceal certain amounts” in his statement of assets, liabilities and net worth (SALN), the prosecution has alleged.

This surfaced on Day 19 of Corona’s impeachment trial as PSBank president Pascual Garcia testified on the Chief Justice’s peso accounts in its branch on Katipunan Avenue in Quezon City.


Garcia told the impeachment court that Corona had other accounts in the same branch after branch manager Annabelle Tiongson testified that Corona opened and closed five similar accounts with opening balances totaling P30 million, from 2007 to 2011.


“There’s evidence your honor that shows that three accounts were closed on the same date of Dec. 12, 2011. And this will show that this was in preparation because of the impeachment complaint that was filed,” private prosecutor Demetrio Custodio said in reply to Senator Loren Legarda, who asked the questions for Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III.

At the trial Thursday, private prosecutor Demetrio Custodio claimed that the Chief Justice closed at least three PSBank peso accounts, totaling P32.6 million, on December 12 last year.

These were Account No. 089-121023848, which was opened on June 29, 2011, with P17 million; Account No. 089-121019523, opened on Dec. 22, 2009, with P8.5 million; and Account No. 089-121021681, opened Sept. 1, 2010, with P7,090,099.45.

Only two of the said accounts were covered by the Senate subpoena.

When asked about the relevance of the closure of the accounts with Corona’s December 2010 SALN, Custodio said this has “no direct relevance.”

“We are only intending to show that there was an attempt to conceal certain amounts. If there will be a consideration of three amounts of the three accounts, they total about P36.2 million,” Custodio said.


Under questioning, Garcia said that Corona closed three bank accounts on Dec. 12, 2011, on the same day 188 lawmakers transmitted the impeachment complaint to the Senate for trial for culpable violation of the Constitution, betrayal of public trust and corruption. He did not give details.

Garcia volunteered that Corona opened a peso time deposit account on June 29, 2011, with a balance of P17 million and closed it on Dec. 12, 2011.

Senator Sergio Osmeña III wondered if the day of the account’s termination was the same day the impeachment complaint was filed.

The House lead prosecutor, Iloilo Rep. Niel Tupas Jr., confirmed this: “The House impeached the Chief Justice on December 12.”

In reply to Pro Tempore Jinggoy Estrada, Garcia admitted that Corona had two other peso time deposit accounts—one opened on Dec. 22, 2009, and another on Sept. 1, 2010, which were also closed on Dec. 12, 2011.

Garcia said he could not say if the accounts were preterminated.

“Because when we open an account let’s say it’s for 60 days, you have the account opening date and the maturity date. So when an account is terminated before the maturity date, then we normally would classify it as a preterminated account because it did not run its full term,” he said.

“It’s quite suspicious,” Estrada said. “These three accounts … they were all closed on the day that the Chief Justice was impeached. And according to Congressman Tupas, the Chief Justice was impeached on Dec. 12, 2011. And all of these three accounts were closed. I don’t want to entertain suspicions, or malice, but I really have suspicions.”

Other Corona accounts

Garcia also said that Corona opened a peso time deposit on July 23, 2010, with an opening balance of P7.3 million, and closed it on

Sept. 1, 2010.

Garcia made the admission after Osmeña asked him if the Chief Justice had other accounts other than those already mentioned. Garcia said these accounts were separate from the peso deposit accounts that Tiongson testified on.

The testimonies were part of the House prosecution of Corona for Article 2, which refers to the Chief Justice’s nondisclosure of his SALN, and his noninclusion of assets in his SALNs.

Earlier in the hearing, Tiongson disclosed Corona had peso time deposit accounts with the branch:

— Account opened on May 16, 2007, with a balance of P5 million, and closed on Oct. 2, 2008.

— Account opened on Jan. 26, 2009, with a balance of P2.1 million, and closed on April 16, 2009.

— Account opened on Dec. 22, 2009, with a balance of P8.5 million and closed on Dec. 12, 2011, with a balance of P12.5 million.

— Account opened on March 4, 2010, with a balance of P3.7 million and closed on April 23, 2010.

— Account opened on Sept. 1, 2010, with a balance of P7 million, and closed on Dec. 12, 2011. As of Dec. 31, 2011, the balance was P7.1 million.

Tiongson did not confirm Custodio’s claim that Corona closed at least three peso accounts with PSBank on December 12 last year totaling P36.2 million. Tiongson could confirm only two accounts closed on that date totaling P19.6 million.

Withdrawal in check

Tiongson said the amount from the three accounts closed on Dec. 12, 2011, was withdrawn in the form of a manager’s check, and said she was unaware if this had been negotiated. “They were not encashed,” she said.

She said that Corona sent an authorization closing the three accounts through his wife, Cristina.

Tiongson said Corona had two other accounts with their Katipunan branch but that she did not know if Cristina had separate accounts in the bank.

Tiongson said that Corona had no other peso accounts in the classification of investment and management trust account, unit investment trust fund and mutual funds, but if he had other accounts, Garcia would know.

Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago rose to ask her a series of questions about the certifications issued by the banks for Corona’s accounts in a bid to “lay the foundation” for her testimony.

“Now you have been qualified … Counsel take note,” a smiling Santiago said after her questioning.

Osmeña wondered if Garcia didn’t find it strange that Corona would close the account in less than six months, especially the 2011 account.

Inventory of Corona records

Under questioning by Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, Tiongson admitted that PSBank made an inventory of the records pertaining to Corona’s accounts from their bank branch to their head office. She said the documents were picked up by a senior officer, Ismael Reyes.

She said that Garcia had the records retrieved before PSBank received the subpoena. But she later said she couldn’t recall whether the documents pertained to peso or other accounts. Garcia said that the documents were retrieved after Jan. 30, 2012.

Enrile later grilled Garcia on why he had the documents pertaining to Corona’s accounts transferred from their branch to their head office.

Bank records summoned

“We manage different types of risks. In this particular case, we have an impeachment process. There’s a national process. We felt that ultimately documents of the customer would become the subject matter of inquiry and there’s a lot of interest in it. We believed it would have been prudent for us to properly control them better,” he said.

He said no outside influence led to the decision.

After Tiongson admitted that Corona has two other accounts with PSBank, Enrile on Thursday night ordered the issuance of subpoena for bank records pertaining to these accounts. Garcia said he would comply.

On Sen. Franklin Drilon’s motion, Tiongson said she would also bring documents about Cristina Corona’s accounts with the same bank, if indeed she had accounts with the bank.

Chief defense counsel Serafin Cuevas later rose to manifest that the bank officials were being “bulldozed” into admitting that there were deposit accounts that had not been “delineated or particularized.” He said: “This partakes of a fishing expedition.”

Nondisclosure of SALNs

But Enrile explained that it was Garcia who volunteered the information on the existence of Corona’s accounts other than those mentioned by Tiongson, and disagreed with Cuevas’ claim of “fishing expedition.”

Cuevas pressed on and argued that the matter being tackled was not part of Article 2, but Enrile maintained that the court deemed it covered by Paragraph 2.2 on the nondisclosure of SALN, and Paragraph 2.3 on the non-inclusion of assets in the SALN.

Cuevas said the hearing zeroed in on accounts that continued to exist after 2010, pointing out that Article 2 deals with Corona’s SALNs up to 2010. “Apparently the evidence presented is not circumscribed. Neither does it fall within the ambit of the complaint,” he said.

Enrile replied: “I know a little bit of accounting. When you prepare a balance sheet at the end of the year, which is in the nature of assets, whether bank deposits, cash on hand, real property, you ought to include that in your SALN.”

Enrile, however, said that the defense could question the admission of such evidence if found to be outside the coverage of the complaint.—With reports from Michael Lim Ubac and Lucy Swinnen of Philippine Daily Inquirer and Maila Ager of

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Originally posted at 09:07 pm | Thursday, February 16,  2012

TAGS: House of Representatives, Impeachment, PSBank, Renato Corona

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