Graft raps filed vs Ongpin, 25 ex-DBP execs | Inquirer News

Graft raps filed vs Ongpin, 25 ex-DBP execs

The Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP) on Friday filed a criminal complaint of graft and violation of banking laws against 25 past and current officers and three private persons in connection with the grant of questionable over half-a-billion-peso loans approved in one day during then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s administration.

Among those named in the complaint filed in the Office of the Ombudsman were former Trade Minister Roberto Ongpin; former DBP president Reynaldo David; former DBP chief operating officer Edgardo Garcia; and former DBP directors Patricia Sto. Tomas, Ramon Durano IV, Alexander Magno, Floro Oliveros, Joseph Pangilinan, Miguel Romero, Franklin Velarde and Renato Velasco.

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The complaint was signed by Jose Nuñez and Franciso del Rosario Jr., DBP chair and president, respectively.

The case stemmed from DBP’s grant of  P510-million and P150-million loans to Delta Ventures Resources Inc. (DVRI), allegedly with undue haste and in violation of its own lending policies, as well as Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas regulations. The P510-million loan was also used by DVRI to purchase 50 million of DBP shares of stock in Philex Mining Co.

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The investigation of the transactions allegedly spurred a DBP documentation lawyer, Benjamin Pinpin, 43, to take his own life on Tuesday.

‘Puny company’

DVRI was formerly led by Ongpin. David headed DBP during the Arroyo years.

In the complaint, DBP questioned the grant of a “gargantuan loan” to a “puny company,” according to a statement from its law firm.

“That the P510-million loan applied for by this puny company was approved by the RMC credit committee, the executive credit committee and the board of directors of DBP all in one day makes it doubly suspicious,” DBP said.

It said that when the loan was applied for, DVRI had a paid-up capital of only P625,000. It quoted the Commission on Audit as saying that the P510-million loan was 816 times more than the firm’s paid-up capital, which raised doubts about its ability to pay for it.

DBP also said DVRI’s financial statements showed that it had a net loss of P98.76 million and retained earnings of negative P2.355 million.

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It said DVRI majority stockholder Josephine Manalo, one of the respondents, was found to have canceled credit cards and unpaid credit card debts.

It said that DBP’s Philex shares were sold to DVRI at P12.75 per share, and that the firm sold these a month later at P21 per share, thus depriving the government bank of an opportunity trading gain of P412.4 million.

DBP said it was not its mandate to extend irregular loans that would allow private persons to enrich themselves at the bank’s expense.

It said those behind such deeds should be punished to serve as an example and a deterrent to others.

‘Unfair’ inquiry

But the DBP employees’ union said the manner by which some of its members were being investigated was “unfair” and “highly demoralizing.”

Union president Gregorio Mico told the Inquirer that the employees being investigated for transactions made by the bank during the Arroyo administration were feeling the discomfort and pressure that drove Pinpin to commit suicide.

“Investigations are still in the information-gathering stage, but why are our people already being exposed to the media as if they are guilty?” Mico said.

He said that DBP employees wanted due process for their fellow workers, and that the bank’s stability was being adversely affected by the allegations of irregularities in transactions.

The other day, Leonora Fernandez, DBP first vice president for communication, said the bank was supportive of a formal inquiry. She said raising the matter with the Office of the Ombudsman was something DBP welcomed.

Fernandez said Pinpin was not part of the DBP investigating team.

The lawyer’s body was found in a bathroom of a hotel room in Las Piñas City with a nylon cord looped around the neck.

DBP employees have been wearing black shirts and black armbands to mourn Pinpin’s death.

‘Overzealousness’

The inquiry into DBP transactions during the Arroyo administration is being led by Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima on the directive of President Aquino.

Arroyo’s lawyer and spokesperson Raul Lambino on Friday assailed the Aquino administration for its “overzealousness” in trying to pin her down for plunder.

“How could they do such a thing?” Lambino quoted Arroyo as saying shortly before being discharged from St. Luke’s Medical Center in Taguig City Friday morning.

He said Arroyo was shocked to learn that Pinpin had killed himself in a hotel room and left behind suicide notes expressing regret over signing an affidavit attesting to a questionable loan.

He added that Arroyo could not believe the extent to which the Aquino administration would go to pin her and her allies to alleged massive corruption during her term.

House Minority Leader Edcel Lagman said Del Rosario should fully disclose the affidavits signed by Pinpin,  who, Lagman said, “intimated in his suicide letters he was coerced or cajoled to sign ‘beyond the truth.’”

“The concealment of these affidavits would give rise to the presumption that they are kept under wraps because they contain evidence that DBP zealots went overboard in procuring perjured testimony even as such nondisclosure would confirm Pinpin’s statement that he was compelled or enticed to lie,” the lawmaker said in a statement. With a report from Gil C. Cabacungan Jr.

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TAGS: DBP, Development Bank of the Philippines, Government, Graft and Corruption, Office of the Ombudsman, Roberto Ongpin
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