Defense: P34M is Corona’s wife’s; it didn’t come from gov’t
While Chief Justice Renato Corona’s wife and her kin are disputing ownership of Basa-Guidote Enterprises Inc. (BGEI), the P34-million proceeds from the sale of its property deposited in Corona’s account are not “ill-gotten,” the defense spokesperson said on Saturday.
Tranquil Salvador III acknowledged reports that Cristina Corona had been accused of usurping control of BGEI and selling its property on Bustillos Street in Manila in 2001 for P34.7 million without the board’s authority.
“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 phone interview, referring to the prosecution’s insinuation that the amount was illegally acquired by Corona. “It didn’t come from government, and it did not come from his work [as] Chief Justice.”
And since it is Cristina Corona’s money and not the Chief Justice’s, he is not duty-bound to declare it in his statements of assets, liabilities and net worth (SALNs), Salvador said.
Money ‘still intact’
The Manila city government expropriated the BGEI property and paid P34.7 million to the corporation, and the check was purportedly entrusted to Cristina Corona amid 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—on Dec. 12, 2011, the same day House lawmakers filed the impeachment complaint against him.
Defense counsel Ramon Esguerra said that the case between the contending parties was still pending, and that “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.”
The Manila city government paid the check to Cristina Corona “in that capacity,” Esguerra said.
Salvador said the defense had documents to prove that Cristina Corona controlled BGEI and owned a majority of it, and would present these when its turn came at Corona’s impeachment trial.
“In due time we will explain because it’s a bit complicated. She has control of the company, and we will prove that in time,” he said.
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