MANILA, Philippines - Businessman Roberto V. Ongpin is set to file a criminal case against Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) Deputy Governor Nestor Espenilla for asking the appellate court to have his bank accounts frozen.
In a statement released Friday, January 4, Ongpin said Espenilla violated the anti-graft law when he sought the freeze order, a move that caused "great damage and prejudice" to the former trade minister.
The freeze order was issued after the Ombudsman recommended the filing of charges against Ongpin and 24 others for P660 million worth of alleged behest loan deals between his company and state-run Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP) in 2009.
"Espenilla has caused my reputation the gravest damage by his signing an ex-parte petition with the Court of Appeals that my bank accounts be frozen. This action, which is totally without basis is never taken lightly by anyone, not my international business partners, and certainly not by the investing public, which has lost for me several billions in market value of my listed shares. I cannot allow Espenilla to take this most serious action, whether deliberate or not, and let him get away with it," Ongpin said.
Denying the loans were behest, Ongpin argued it was Espenilla himself who testified during Senate hearings last year that the loans were "prudent and positive, and resulted in trading gains for DBP."
He said now, the BSP deputy governor has taken the opposite position.
Ongpin said Espenilla, who headed the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) in the absence of BSP Governor Amando Tetangco Jr. in December, signed an ex-parte petition stating that the loans were irregular, and asked that his accounts be held.
"Espenilla's contradictory position on the DBP transactions is a clear case of gross inexcusable negligence, to say the least," Ongpin's statement read, noting this was a violation under the anti-graft law.
"My reputation above all else is of the highest value and most sacred to me. I have spent a lifetime, both in government service and in the private sector establishing it. I will not permit anyone, not even a deputy-governor of the Bangko Sentral, to tarnish it by his frivolous, baseless and reckless accusations against me," the businessman added.
Rappler is trying to reach Espenilla for comment as of posting.
In 2009, Ongpin, through Deltaventure Resources Inc., borrowed P660-million loans from DBP to buy a portion of the shares owned by the state bank in copper-gold producer Philex Mining Corp. for P12.75 per share.
Ongpin later sold the shares for P21 each to the Hong Kong-based First Pacific group, led by Manuel V. Pangilinan. DBP, led by then bank president Reynaldo David, piggy-backed on Ongpin's deal with First Pacific and sold its remaining Philex shares.
Ongpin maintained that the loans were not only paid well before maturity and with full interest, they also generated trading gains and profits for DBP worth P1.4 billion.
However, Espenilla stated in the AMLC resolution that Ongpin and others involved in the transactions caused "undue injury" to DBP as the bank lost "opportunity profits" when it sold its shares to Ongpin instead of Pangilinan. - Rappler.com
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