Ongpin vs BSP saga: Lame defense and graft case
MANILA, Philippines - The defense the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) used against the charges of Roberto V. Ongpin was "lame," while the country's 9th richest man's charges were "wrong."
This was how the ongoing word war between the regulator and the regulated evolved on Wednesday, January 9, as Ongpin refused to buckle down and slammed the BSP's counter statement the day before.
The two camps have been butting heads over issues regarding frozen bank accounts and the confirmation of Ongpin as a board member in a mid-sized bank.
At stake are Ongpin's reputation as well as the independent government agencies' muscle to rein in one of the country's most powerful.
In a January 9 statement, Ongpin's legal counsel Alex Poblador took BSP to task for not confirming the businessman as a board director of Philippine Bank of Communications (PBCom).
Poblador said BSP "misquoted" their camp when the regulator said in its January 8 statement that Ongpin's confirmation was not "denied" but merely "deferred" pending an undisclosed information the regulator needed.
"Mr. Ongpin never used the word “deny” in his letter to the Monetary Board (BSP's policy making body). In its statement, however, the BSP obviously and deliberately misquoted Mr. Ongpin in order to try and make their case," Poblador wrote.
Ongpin's lawyer also stressed that the Monetary Board's decision to wait for the criminal cases the Office Ombudsman will file against the businessman "could take months, if not years to resolve," thus Ongpin's confirmation as PBCom director and co-chairman would be "indefinite." (Ongpin has since resigned from the bank's board and sold his PBCOm stakes)
Espenilla was 'irresponsible'
Ongpin's camp also slammed BSP's defense of Deputy Governor Nestor Espenilla who was officer-in-charge of the BSP when Governor Amando Tetangco was away on business.
The BSP said it was "concerned" that Ongpin singled out Espenilla, a 30-year veteran at the BSP.
Ongpin had threatened to file a graft case against Espenilla whom he accused of ordering the freezing of his bank accounts. In December 2012, Espenilla took part of the Anti-Money Laundering Council's (AMLC) move to freeze Ongpin's and other individual's bank accounts as the state investigates the P660 million allegedly "behest" loans the government-run Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP) extended to Ongpin-led firms for the buying and selling of Philex Mining Corp. shares in 2009.
"The criminal suit is being directed at Deputy Governor Espenilla precisely because of the contradictory positions he took on the matter. During the Senate hearings in 2011, Mr. Espenilla stated under oath that Mr. Ongpin's transactions with DBP regarding Philex shares were “positive” for the bank," the Ongpin camp reiterated.
"There simply is no defense against it," Poblador stressed, adding that Espenilla's role in the AMLC's action was "irresponsible" and has resulted in severe damage to him.
"The financial damage to Mr. Ongpin is clearly quantifiable in terms of the major drop (amounting to several billion pesos) in the value of Mr. Ongpin's shareholdings in his publicly-listed companies. Mr. Ongpin has therefore decided to take all justifiable action to seek appropriate retribution," it added.
This time, the Ongpin group added a new threat: They will also file a criminal and civil case against Vicente Aquino, the Executive Director of the AMLC Secretariat.
Poblador said BSP's statement has dragged in Aquino and identified the anti-money laundering chief as "having participated in the damage done to Mr. Ongpin."
Anti-money laundering chief sued, too
Ongpin's camp said they will file the cases against the two government officials "this week." - Rappler.com