Ongpin shifting the blame: BSP
MANILA, Philippines - The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) slammed businessman Roberto V. Ongpin anew over the singling out of a regulatory official in the ongoing word-war-turned-legal drama between the two camps.
In a statement on Friday, January 11, the lawyer of BSP Deputy Governor Nestor A. Espenilla Jr, whom Ongpin sued for graft the day before, said Ongpin is "shifting the blame" and "persecuting" Espenilla in the process.
"The filing of criminal charges against BSP Deputy Governor Nestor Espenilla, Jr. is a clear attempt by Mr. Roberto Ongpin to shift the blame to another for the freezing of his bank accounts pursuant to the 6 December 2012 Resolution issued by the Court of Appeals," Espenilla's counsel, Augusto A. San Pedro, wrote.
Ongpin has been "disregard(ing) the fact that the whole issue arose from the filing of criminal complaints by the Development Bank of the Philippines with the Ombudsman against Mr. Ongpin and other DBP officials who were involved in the approval of loans to companies affiliated with Mr. Ongpin to buy Philex Mining Corporation shares owned by the DBP." he added.
Ongpin, the country's 9th richest man, has filed a graft case against Espenilla on January 10, citing violations of Republic Act No. 3019 otherwise known as the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.
He has said Espenilla's role in the freezing of his bank account damaged his reputation. Ongpin does business in the Philippines and abroad.
Why single out Espenilla?
San Pedro reiterated previous reasons cited by the BSP to counter Ongpin camp's claim of Espenilla's role in the freezing of Ongpin's bank accounts in December.
- Ombudsman referred the alleged anti-money laundering issue in the DBP transaction involving Ongpin to the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) for immediate action.
- AMLC's collegial body authorized the filing of the freezing of the bank accounts by the lawyers of the Office of the Solicitor General, the AMLC’s statutory counsel.
- The Court of Appeals said probable cause exists to freeze the subject bank accounts based on the AMLC petition
Thus, the BSP official's lawyer stressed, the freezing of the bank accounts "is a product of a collegial body," not Espenilla's alone.
"The filing of charges against Dep. Governor Espenilla can at best, be viewed as an act of persecution," the lawyer said, adding that Ongpin's charges are also considered as "insults (to) the Ombudsman, the AMLC, the Office of the Solicitor General and the Court of Appeals, the institutions that decide on matters such as this." - Rappler.com