‘Unauthorized’ payment to foreigners
Former top officials of the National Power Corp. are facing graft and malversation charges before the Sandiganbayan for allegedly paying P124 million in 2003 to foreign representatives of a long-shuttered firm who turned out to be of “doubtful authority.”
The Office of the Ombudsman ordered charges to be filed against Rogelio Murga, former Napocor president and chief executive officer, and Alberto Guanzon, former chair of the company’s committee on contract expiration on insurance capacities.
The Ombudsman set bail at P30,000 for the graft charges, but maintained that the malversation charges were non-bailable.
The antigraft body did not press charges against Singapore-based foreign nationals Kay Swee Tuan and Terence Selverajah for lack of jurisdiction.
It also agreed with earlier findings by the National Bureau of Investigation pointing to a conspiracy among Murga, Guanzon, Tuan and Selverajah.
A resolution approved by Acting Ombudsman Orlando Casimiro on June 9 held Murga and Guanzon liable for ‘’glaring irregularities attending the release” of Napocor funds, “causing undue injury” to the government.
The case stemmed from a complaint by Navotas Industrial Corp. (NIC) which had a pending claim against Ganda Energy and Holdings, Inc. (GEHI)., a power supplier of Napocor. The claim was in connection with a dredging project for which GEHI contracted NIC’s services.
When GEHI failed to pay up, NIC filed a case for preliminary attachment before the Malabon Regional Trial Court. The NIC sought to collect the amount GEHI would in turn get from Napocor.
But the state-owned power firm said it no longer had any payments to make to GEHI, having settled all its obligations through Tuan, who in turn was supposedly authorized by Selverajah to make that transaction.
But NIC contended that Napocor had no authority to pay GEHI through Tuan, who it said had no board authority from GEHI.
The NIC also noted that as early as October 2000, it already sought Napocor’s assistance to recover GEHI’s obligations. Napocor, however, said GEHI’s contract with Napocor had been completed and that the latter could no longer act on the request.
In the resolution, the Ombudsman said Murga and Guanzon failed to back their claim that they acted in good faith in dealing with Tuan.
It said the Napocor officials knew they were dealing with foreign nationals, which was why they should have made “stringent verifications” before releasing the money, especially since they also knew that GEHI’s Manila office had closed down in 2000 or three years before the questioned transaction.