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Gatchalians say raps a political vendetta

/ 06:55 AM April 19, 2015

A “Political vendetta” against allies of the previous administration was the motive for the filing of graft charges against several individuals over the acquisition of an insolvent thrift bank by the Local Water Utilities Administration (LWUA), according to the Wellex Group.

Lamberto Mercado Jr., vice president for legal affairs of Wellex, which is owned and controlled by the Gatchalian family, said the sale of the Laguna-based thrift bank Express Savings Bank Inc. (Esbi) to the LWUA had been purely for investment.

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“They were sellers in good faith,” Mercado said of the five Gatchalian family members who were criminally charged on Friday, along with former LWUA head Prospero Pichay Jr. in the P880-million transaction.

Mercado said the Office of the Ombudsman the wrongly concluded that the private respondents had received unwarranted benefits from the contract based on the presumption that they received part of the consideration for the 445,377 Esbi shares.

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“In truth and in fact, private respondents never benefited at all from the sale, as there is no proof that they personally or actually received any part of the consideration for the subject shares,” he said.

Ordered indicted for graft and malversation were Valenzuela City Rep. Sherwin Gatchalian and his brothers, Kenneth and Alay Buhay party-list Rep. Weslie Gatchalian.

The brothers’ father, plastics tycoon William Gatchalian, and his wife Dee Hua were also ordered charged for violation of banking laws.

The case originated from the acquisition by the LWUA board, under the leadership of Pichay, of Esbi, despite the bank’s “precarious financial standing.”

The Gatchalians are the executives and owners of Wellex Group (WGI) and Forum Pacific Inc. (FPI), which owned and operated Esbi when LWUA bought it in 2009.

According to the resolution issued on March 16 by Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales, the Gatchalians made more than P80 million in profit from the sale of Esbi which the Philippine Deposit Insurance Corp. had placed under receivership in July 2011.

But Mercado said “FPI’s, WGI’s and the other private respondents’ personal stake holdings in Esbi were purely for investment.”

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“It is unfortunate, though, that FPI and WGI were sucked into the whirlpool of political vendetta against known political allies of the previous administration since former LWUA chair Prospero Pichay is known to be very close to detained former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo,” he said. DJ Yap

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TAGS: Esbi, Express Savings Bank Inc., Gatchalian family, Gatchalians, Lamberto Mercado Jr., Local Water Utilities Administration, LWUA, Office of the Ombudsman, Wellex Group
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