NBI probes scam pulled off by ‘Duterte aide’ impostor
The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) has launched a manhunt for at least two suspects who allegedly posed as Peter Tiu Laviña, the campaign spokesperson of incoming President Rodrigo Duterte, and asked for a P1-million donation from a senior officer of the Bank of the Philippine Islands (BPI) late last month.
BPI filed an estafa complaint in the NBI on Thursday, saying an impostor approached the bank officer and claimed that the donation would be used for two events in Davao City, where Duterte is the outgoing mayor: “Senior Citizens Day” on June 1 and Duterte’s thanksgiving party that was held last night.
The bureau has arrested four persons being linked to the scam, including the owner of an account in another bank where the donated money was deposited by the senior BPI officer, who was not named in the complaint.
NBI supervising agent Nathaniel Ramos said the bureau’s Antigraft Division is looking for Manny Funa Jr. and a person known only “JV,” who were both identified by Jerico Sauco, the owner of the account. According to Sauco, Funa is his uncle while JV is the latter’s business partner.
Sauco, his live-in partner, and his two cousins were arrested by NBI agents on June 2 when they tried to withdraw the remaining P300,000 (out of the P1-million deposit) from Sauco’s account at an EastWest bank branch in San Pedro, Laguna province.
When questioned, Sauco admitted he had already withdrawn P300,000 and P400,000 on May 31 and June 1, respectively, and that those amounts were already with Funa.
But Sauco denied knowing that the money that entered his account was the subject of a criminal complaint. He claimed he was just following orders from Funa, who told him to withdraw the money so Funa and JV could use it to start a business—a sewage treatment plant.
After the arrests, Ramos said, Sauco and the three other suspects could no longer contact Funa and JV. The arrested suspects are all residents of Valenzuela City.
The NBI later found that a sum of P500,000 also entered Sauco’s account on May 18, which he also withdrew later and handed over to Funa.
Ramos also noted that Sauco’s account was classified as a payroll account linked to the real estate developer DM Consunji Inc. (DMCI). “But Sauco is not an employee of DMCI; he’s probably an agent and that’s where his commission is deposited,” he said.
“We are coordinating with the Anti-Money Laundering Council on this investigation,” he added.
The NBI official found it “ironic” that the scam’s mastermind pretended to be a major figure in the Duterte camp, considering that Sauco supported Duterte’s presidential bid by selling campaign merchandise online.
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