Former DBP chairman Nañagas acquitted of graft, estafa
MANILA, Philippines – The Sandiganbayan on Wednesday, February 15, acquitted former Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP) board chairman Vitaliano Nañagas II of a graft charge and two counts of estafa charges.
The Sandiganbayan Third Division, in a 19-page resolution, explained that it re-examined the evidence upon the defendant's motion for reconsideration. It found grounds to acquit him due to a weakness in the graft case, and some reasonable doubt in the two estafa cases.
Nañagas was convicted on March 10, 2016, of the 3 charges and sentenced to 14 years in prison – 6 years for the graft charge, and 4 years for each estafa charge. He was also ordered to pay the government P377,040.01 in restitution equivalent to his supposed unlawful reimbursement of travel expenses.
The court earlier said Nañagas used public funds for his personal business during officials travels as an officer of a state-owned bank. Prosecutors also said the accused inserted P310,665.73 worth of personal purchases, including lingerie, underwear, jersey shorts, and other personal gifts into his reimbursements. He also requested reimbursement of expenses worth P66,374.28 incurred in the Philippines, even if he was on travel abroad in the United States.
In its reversal of the ruling, the court said the DBP board's approval of his application for official travel and personal leave was not classified as a "transaction" as defined by the Supreme Court in the earlier case of Soriano Jr vs Sandiganbayan.
In the said case, transactions were limited to contracts “involving monetary consideration where the public officer has the authority to intervene under the law.”
“Here the accused’s request for the Board’s approval of his foreign travel and his application for personal leave are clearly not contracts with a private person involving monetary consideration,” the court explained.
The court added that the estafa cases were not characterized by fraud. The court accepted Nañagas' explanation that personal items were included in his reimbursement because he relied on his secretary to prepare the documents.
“Deceit is an allegation of fact that demands clear and convincing proof. Evidently, [the accused] did not personally review the propriety of inclusion of the receipts in the said requests for reimbursement. However, this negligence cannot be equated with deceit,” the court said. – Rappler.com