Solgen Cadiz: DBP has strong case against Ongpin et al.
MANILA, Philippines—The state-owned Development Bank of the Philippines has a strong case against businessman Roberto Ongpin, former members of the DBP board and several bank officials for the “questionable” P650 million transactions, the government’s chief lawyer said.
“Based on available documents, we have a strong case to hold them liable for violation of banking laws and the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act,” Solicitor General Jose Anselmo Cadiz said in a statement.
Cadiz was designated by President Benigno Aquino III to act as lead counsel for DBP.
The chief state lawyer, who served as head of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) from 2003 to 2006 and finished his pre-law and law studies at the University of the Philippines Diliman, will work closely with lawyers Zenaida Ongkiko-Acorda and Jose Manuel Diokno, who were earlier deputized by the Office of the Solicitor General to handle the case.
“The real question is whether DBP officials violated banking laws and its own rules to engage in speculation using state funds when the DBP’s thrust is medium and small industries and not to depend on the value of shares,” Cadiz said.
The solicitor general also denied that they were engaging in a witch hunt. “There are diversionary tactics that do not confront the issue frontally. It cannot be called a witch hunt because clearly something wrong has been done and we are merely correcting it since documents show that the DBP and Ongpin violated the law.”
“If we do not do anything for fear that we will be accused of persecution, then we will have no functioning justice system,” Cadiz added.
Last August 5, the DBP filed criminal and administrative cases against its past board led by chairman Patricia Santo Tomas, president Reynaldo David and former Trade Minister Roberto Ongpin over P660 million in loans that the bank had granted to an Ongpin company to finance his acquisition of Philex Mining shares.
The complaint before the Ombudsman also named former DBP chief operating officer Edgardo Garcia and former directors Ramon Durano IV, Alexander Magno, Floro Oliveros, Joseph Pangilinan, Miguel Romero, Franklin Velarde and Renato Velasco as respondents.
Current DBP chairman Jose Nuñez and president Francisco Del Rosario Jr. claimed that the past board extended two “behest” loans of P150 million and P510 million to an Ongpin’s Delta Ventures Resources Inc. despite its having only P625,000 in paid-up capital.
Delta Ventures used the loans to buy a block of Philex Mining shares at P12.75 a share, flipping them less than a month later at P21 a share to the Metro Pacific Group.
The Commission on Audit in its findings claimed that the transaction deprived the bank of an opportunity to earn trading gain of P412.4 million.
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