BSP: PSBank lax with Corona accounts

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The regulator says the thrift bank did not comply with anti-money laundering requirements and denies that its examiners leaked Renato Corona's bank records

MANILA, Philippines – The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) denied that its audit team was the source of the disputed copy of Renato Corona’s bank documents and that it singled out the chief justice in its regular bank examination.

In a statement on Monday evening, February 20, the bank regulator stressed that its audit team that was deployed to conduct its regular examination of Philippine Savings Bank (PSBank) “could not have copied nor secured copies” of the deposit account records, including the signature cards of Corona.

BSP said the assigned examiners “did not access” and “never requested” for the deposit records of Corona that are maintained with PSBank Katipunan branch.

The audit was conducted between October 21 and December 6 in 2010. That year, the prosecution team said the Coronas had around P20 million in their PSBank accounts.

At the impeachment trial, now on its 6th week, the source of the copies of Corona’s bank documents has been a contentious issue since PSBank officials said the copies that the prosecution team presented to the Senate are “fake.”

BSP said that a conversation between PSBank’s compliance officer Grace de la Cruz and BSP examiner and anti-money laundering specialist Jerry Leal prompted the latter to further examine how the bank was complying with the anti-money laundering rules.

De la Cruz reportedly mentioned to Leal that the chief justice won P1 million in the PSBank’s raffle for “valued account holders.”

“Having noted that the chief justice is PSBank’s client, Examiner Jerry Leal verified PSBank’s policy on politically exposed persons or PEP,” the BSP said in the statement.

Leal requested for PSBank’s PEP list since “under BSP regulations, a bank is required to have such a policy in place. Maintaining a PEP list is a standard element of an effective anti-money laundering compliance program in accordance with international best practices,” it explained.

Leal found that Corona was not tagged as a PEP and, therefore, not included in the PSBank’s list that is submitted to the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC).

The AMLC monitors bank activities of select individuals and entities, including those of tagged as PEP, based on these submissions by the banks.

BSP said that PSBank’s non-compliance resulted in a final finding that “PSBank’s PEP list is not comprehensive.”

PSBank was then directed to improve its tagging of PEPs.

Valued client

The prosecution team earlier said that they discovered Corona’s multi-million accounts in PSBank because of information that the chief justice won P1-million in the bank’s raffle.

Called the “Pay it Forward” campaign, the monthly raffle was open to PSBank peso and dollar account holders with respective P100,000 and US$2,000 average daily balances.

Corona was the first winner of the raffle in March 2008. He did not declare this in his Statement of Assets Liabilities and Net Worth (SALN).

The prosecution is trying to prove that the Corona was not truthful in his SALNs as alleged in Article 2 of the Impeachment Complaint. –

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