Pharmally exec’s admissions suggest Yang has deep financial ties – Gordon
MANILA, Philippines — Michael Yang appears to be well-versed in the financial transactions of Pharmally Pharmaceutical Corp. after a company official admitted seeking assistance from the Chinese businessman on numerous occasions, Senator Richard Gordon said on Monday.
During the Senate blue ribbon committee hearing, committee chair Gordon asked Pharmally director and supply chain head Linconn Ong to explain where they got the funds for each contract they entered with the government to supply pandemic equipment like face masks and personal protective equipment (PPE).
In two instances — transactions involving P3.82 billion and P2.877 billion — Ong said he sought Yang’s assistance for mounting the funds.
“May 8, 2020, ang halaga — two million, ito malaki-laki ito, umabot ito ng P3.82 billion ang halaga, one single transaction for two million PPEs, P1,910 ang unit cost […] I would be fascinated to know where you got the P3.82 billion,” Gordon asked Ong.
(May 8, 2020, the price was — two million PPE set which reached a price of P3.82 billion, one single transaction for two million PPEs, P1,910 per unit.)
“Mr. Chairman, humingi din po ako ng tulong, itong project na ‘to, itong malaki, humingi rin po ako ng tulong kay Mr. Michael Yang,” Ong admitted.
(Mr. Chairman, I also asked for help for this big project, I also asked for Mr. Michael Yang’s help.)
When asked where Yang, President Rodrigo Duterte’s former economic adviser, had gotten his funds, Ong said he didn’t know. He did admit again, however, that Yang is involved in several of the major projects.
“So Michael Yang is involved practically in most of the big-ticket items, correct?” Gordon asked.
“Yes, po Mr. Chair,” Ong replied.
Yang was supposed to attend Monday’s hearing, but his lawyer Raymond Fortun revealed that Yang’s blood pressure spiked, so he couldn’t attend.
Gordon has already directed the committee secretariat to ask the Bureau of Immigration to put Yang under their watchlist as his name popped up several times in the hearing.
During last Friday’s hearing, Yang stated that he was not involved in Pharmally other than to introduce it to Chinese suppliers and guarantee that the company can pay its dues.
Huang Tzu Yen, president of Pharmally, who met virtually from Singapore, admitted having asked Yang for financial assistance. From there, Ong revealed that Yang had also helped them in terms of funding.
Ong said that the first Pharmally transaction completed with Yang’s help involved the purchase of two million PPE sets worth P1,910 each, for a total cost of P3.82 billion.
The second transaction is to purchase 41,400 RT-PCR COVID-19 testing kits from China-based BGI Genomics, each priced at P69,500. The total price was at P2.877 billion.
Gordon warned that Yang’s transactions might be investigated by the Anti-Money Laundering Council since he appears to be funding a company that does business with the government behind the scenes.
“Michael Yang, papaano dumating ‘yong pera? Nakakakuha ka ng tulong, pano dumating ang pera dito? Kailangang ipalawanag hindi ba Mr. Abrea kung saan nila kinukuha ‘yong pera na ‘yan dahil merong mga repercussions ‘yan, pwedeng sabihin na talagang maaaring may money laundering,” Gordon said, talking to tax expert and certified public accountant Mon Abrea, who agreed.
(Michael Yang, how did the money reach the country? You (Ong) were able to get help; how did that happen? They need to explain that, Mr. Abrea, right? About where they sourced that money because it will have repercussions, they can be held liable for money laundering.)
Eventually, Gordon turned to Huang to ask how much Yang loaned them, but Pharmally president Huang said that Ong and Yang made their deals bilaterally.
“I’ve been trying to pursue Linconn Ong and really there is a travesty here dahil bilyon-bilyong piso napunta sa Pharmally na ishini-share nila sa mga supplier nila, at lumalabas palagi si Michael Yang. ‘Yan, si Michael Yang palagi ang nagsasalba sa inyo, ‘di ba, magkano ba talaga ang pina-utang sa inyo ni Michael Yang? Mr. Huang, how much did Mr. Yang lent you?” Gordon asked.
(I’ve been trying to pursue Linconn Ong and really, there is a travesty here because billions of funds went to Pharmally, which they shared with their suppliers, and Michael Yang’s name always appears. It appears Michael Yang always saves them, right? Mr. Huang, how much did Mr. Yang lent you?)
“I’m not privy to that — as I’ve said, I did not participate in the agreement,” Huang answered.
The blue ribbon committee is investigating the issue of overpriced pandemic supplies after the Commission on Audit flagged several items in the government’s COVID-19 funds.
This includes the P42 billion given to the Department of Budget and Management’s Procurement Service (PS-DBM) to buy alleged overpriced face masks, face shields, and PPE sets. The majority of the alleged overpriced goods said to be P8.7 billion in contracts, went to Pharmally.
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