Vitangcol pleads not guilty to extort try
Dismissed Metro Rail Transit (MRT-3) general manager Al Vitangcol III on Wednesday pleaded not guilty to his graft charges over an alleged extortion try on Czech firm Inekon in exchange for contracts with the railway system.
Vitangcol attended his scheduled arraignment before the Sandiganbayan Sixth Division and pleaded not guilty as his charges were read out to him.
In filing the graft charges against Vitangcol, Ombudsman prosecutors accused Vitangcol of attempting to extort $30 million from Inekon in exchange for contracts for the supply for additional light rail vehicles and maintenance of the MRT-3 in connection with the P3.7-billion MRT-3 expansion project in 2012.
Vitangcol and his alleged envoy Wilson De Vera were accused of extorting $30 million from Inekon Group CEO and chair Josef Husek in the residence of then Czech Ambassador to the Philippines Josef Rychtar in exchange for granting Inekon the P3.7-billion contract to supply 48 coaches for the MRT 3 expansion.
Inekon turned down the extort try.
Vitangcol and De Vera’s second graft charge stemmed from an allegation that they conspired and insisted for Inekon to sign a joint venture agreement for the maintenance contract under a 60-40 percent sharing scheme with a group of persons who included De Vera, an incorporator of the firm Philippine Trans Rail Management and Services Corp. (PH-Trams).
When Inekon turned down the offer, De Vera returned and proposed instead a 60-40 joint venture between Inekon and a group of incorporators selected by Vitangcol for the maintenance contract of the MRT.
Vitangcol was sacked in Aug. 2014 after he was accused of conflict of interest when he awarded a maintenance contract to the firm of his wife’s uncle, an allegation which earned him his first graft case. JE
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