Ex-Pagcor chair seeks dismissal of graft raps over funds mess
Former Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (Pagcor) Chair Efraim Genuino has asked the Sandiganbayan to dismiss the graft charges against him over the anomalous disbursement of P37 million Pagcor funds for the training of swimmers in a college he allegedly owns.
In his motion for judicial determination of probable cause filed before the antigraft court’s third division, Genuino through his lawyers said the prosecution failed to show evidence that he committed graft in the disbursement of P37.063 million Pagcor funds to pay for the training venue of the athletes from the Philippine Amateur Swimming Association (Pasa) who would compete in the Olympics.
The Office of the Special Prosecutor filed one count of graft against Genuino and seven others for violating Section 3(e) of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act by giving unwarranted benefits to Pasa as well as Trace College Inc., Jose Arne Navarra, and Synercraft Control Technologies.
The Ombudsman prosecutors said Genuino gave undue advantage to Pasa when he authorized the release of the P37 million Pagcor funds to the association for the use of the Trace Aquatic Sports Complex (TAC) or the sports facility of Trace College from 2007 to 2009.
Genuino also authorized the release of P9 million to Pasa which it used to pay Navarra and Synercraft for consultancy services in the maintenance of the timing and computer systems being used by the athletes.
Genuino was also charged with a second count of graft for violation of Section 3(h) of the antigraft law when he allegedly had pecuniary or financial interest in the disbursement of the five percent gross income allotment of the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) from the Pagcor fund.
The Ombudsman said Genuino authorized the direct release to Pasa of P37 million, which was sourced from the five percent gross income allotment for the PSC from Pagcor funds.
The said fund intended for PSC was used by Pasa to pay for the training venue in Trace College.
The prosecution said Genuino benefited in the transaction because he allegedly owns and controls Trace College.
In his motion, Genuino said the Ombudsman presented no evidence that he committed evident bad faith, manifest partiality and inexcusable negligence in the transaction between PASA and PSC.
He said Pagcor acted only in good faith when it complied with the PSC’s directive to release its income allotment fund to Pasa.
Genuino said under the law that created the Philippine Sports Commission, the commission is mandated to use the funds it receives from Pagcor for the national sports program, including the training of athletes for international competitions.
Genuino added that he did not participate in the Pagcor board’s deliberations and approval of the release of the funds to Pasa, refuting the Ombudsman’s findings that his nonparticipation was “all for show.”
He also said he did not give unwarranted benefit to Navarra and Synercraft because he was not privy to the decision of Pasa to engage the services of a consultancy firm.
Genuino clarified also that he neither owns nor controls Trace College, contrary to the Ombudsman’s claim that Genuino founded the college.
Genuino said he was a trustee of the college from 1986 to 2004, but he no longer held the position for president since 2002.
He added that the Securities and Exchange Commission documents would show that the shares he and his family own in Trace College have no value because the college is a nonstock corporation.
To bolster his claim that he did not commit manifest partiality, Genuino said the swimming pool in the college he founded was the only Olympic-size swimming pool in the country accredited by the Federation Internationale de Natation (Fina) to host international swimming competitions.
“From the foregoing, it is clear that based on the evidence on record, there exist no lawful ground for the arrest of Genuino. In the absence of any competent proof or credible testimony, there exists no probable cause against him. Hence, the present criminal charges against him should be immediately dismissed,” his motion said.
Among Genuino’s coaccused in the charges were former Pagcor president and chief operations officer Rafael Francisco, former senior vice president Edward King, former executive vice president Rene Figueroa, former vice president Ester Hernandez, former assistant vice president Valente Custodio, former Philippine Sports Commission Chair William Ramirez, and Pasa president Mark Joseph.
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