Money Corona withdrew belonged to wife’s family firm, says defense lawyer | Inquirer News
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Money Corona withdrew belonged to wife’s family firm, says defense lawyer

By: - Deputy Day Desk Chief / @TJBurgonioINQ
/ 08:16 PM February 18, 2012

MANILA, Philippines—The money Chief Justice Renato Corona withdrew from at least three time-deposit accounts he closed on the day he was impeached represented the P34-million proceeds from the sale of property owned by a family corporation that was deposited in his name in light of a dispute among his wife and her relatives over the company’s ownership, one of his defense lawyers said Saturday.

Lawyer Tranquil Salvador III acknowledged reports that Ana Basa had accused Corona’s wife Cristina of  usurping the control of  Basa-Guidote Enterprises (BGEI) and selling its property in Manila in 2001 for P34.7 million without the board’s authority.

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“While there is a dispute, one thing is clear: that amount is not something that they can claim as ill-gotten wealth,” Salvador said in a telephone  phone interview, referring to the prosecution’s insinuation that the amount was illegally acquired by the embattled Chief Justice. “It didn’t come from government, and it did not come from his work by his being Chief Justice.”

And since the money came from Cristina, Salvador said, it was not Corona’s duty to declare it in his statements of assets, liabilities and net worth (SALNs).

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“Therefore that can’t be subject to his reporting in his SALN.… If it’s not his money, there is no duty to report,” he said.

The Manila city government expropriated the BGEI’s property on Bustillos Street in Manila in 2001 and paid P34.7 million to the corporation, and that check was purportedly entrusted to Cristina amid the legal wrangling among family members.

This surfaced anew at last Thursday’s trial when Philippine Savings Bank officials testified that Corona, through his wife, closed three accounts whose opening balances totaled P32.6 million, last December 12, the same day the House of Representatives impeached Corona and filed the articles of impeachment in the Senate.

The defense was quick to say that Corona’s deposits came from BGEI, of which his wife was “almost sole owner.”

Article 2 of the impeachment complaint accuses Corona of non-disclosure of his SALNs, and of not including all of his assets in the statements.

Defense counsel Ramon Esguerra said the case between the BGEI contending parties was still pending, and the “issue of control remains.”

“But the money is still intact even as Mrs. Corona received it in trust for the corporation,” he said in a text message. “She received it in trust. The check says so. She appears to be the administratrix of the estate of the Basa matriarch.”

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The Manila city government paid the check to her “in that capacity,” he said.

Salvador said the defense has documents to prove that Cristina controls the corporation and owns a majority of it, and would present these when their turn comes at Corona’s impeachment trial in the Senate.

“In due time we will explain because it’s a bit complicated,” he said. “She has control of the company, and we will prove that in time.”

Ana Basa, a cousin of Cristina, in 2002 accused her of usurping control of BGEI even though her father Vicente Roco delegated his responsibility to her without a board resolution, and though her mother Asuncion Basa-Roco owned only 10 percent of BGEI’s stock, according to documents.

Cristina’s involvement in the BGEI derived from her father and mother, the company’s president and board secretary since 1963. Ana’s father is BGEI majority stockholder Jose Ma. Basa III.

The company was incorporated on May 30, 1961 by the grandchildren of Jose Ma. Basa, including Jose M. Basa III, Raymunda Basa, Flor Maria Basa, Vicente Roco, Asuncion Basa-Roco as board directors, and Jose M. Basa III, Randy Basa, Mario Basa Jr., Raymundo Basa as corporate officers.

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TAGS: Bank Deposits, Corona Impeachment, Renato Corona
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