Luy admits owning bank account with P1.3M deposit
Principal whistle-blower Benhur Luy on Friday admitted he had at least P1.3 million and $28,000 in bank deposits before he was ordered detained by suspected pork barrel scam mastermind Janet Lim-Napoles in December 2012.
Luy made the disclosure as he testified for the sixth time at Napoles’ bail hearing in the Sandiganbayan Third Division in connection with the alleged diversion of the pork barrel of detained Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile to her bogus foundations.
Grilled by defense lawyer Dennis Buenaventura during his cross-examination, Luy, on the P10-billion fund scam, also revealed that an official of the United Coconut Planters Bank (UCPB) branch in Taguig City had suggested to Napoles to use him as her dummy in creating the payroll accounts of JLN Corp. employees.
Luy claimed his former employer, who was sentenced to up to 40 years in prison for locking him up prior to his decision to spill the beans on the country’s biggest corruption scandal, did not want her name to appear on the documents pertaining to the salaries of her employees.
He said he used to deposit at least P500,000 before the 15th and 30th days of the month in time for the release of their salaries.
“That is the mother account of our payroll. It’s not mine. It was just registered under my name because I was used as a dummy by Napoles,” Luy replied when Buenaventura asked him about the UCPB account.
Buenaventura then challenged the witness to sign an authorization letter allowing Napoles’ lawyers to request bank records of his UCPB account.
“Would you be willing to issue a waiver on this account because you claim that this is not yours?” the defense lawyer asked Luy.
Before Luy could answer Buenaventura’s question, Deputy Special Prosecutor Cornelio Sumido raised his objection, saying the questions posed by Napoles’ lawyer were immaterial and irrelevant.
Asked by Presiding Justice Amparo Cabotaje-Tang if the account was still active, Luy initially said he had no knowledge about it.
But he later admitted that he learned the account was closed in February 2013 when he made a bank verification after he was rescued by National Bureau of Investigation operatives.
“Why did you have to ask for verification when it’s not yours anyway?” Tang asked Luy.
To which the witness replied: “I just wanted to check my own payroll account. I didn’t know that the mother account was connected with my payroll account.”
Continuing his cross-examination, Buenaventura asked Luy if he also maintained accounts in Metrobank, Bank of the Philippine Islands (BPI) and Air Materiel Wings and Savings and Loan Association Inc.
He admitted that he had P1 million in his Metrobank account and P300,000 in UCPB before he was illegally detained by Napoles in one of her houses in Makati City. But the remaining P800,000 of his deposits in Metrobank was eventually transferred to Napoles’ account, he said.
He also confirmed that he had $12,767 in another Metrobank account and $15,000 in his BPI account.
Speaking with reporters after the hearing, Buenaventura said they pounced on Luy’s credibility as a prosecution witness by highlighting his bank accounts to show that he lied about his supposed role in the multibillion-peso fund mess and the commissions he received as a major player in the scam.
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