‘Conspirators’ in Metrobank internal fraud claim innocence

Chrisee Dela Paz
‘Conspirators’ in Metrobank internal fraud claim innocence
Hubert Co and Sue Sai claim they were duped by the key suspect, Metrobank executive Maria Victoria Lopez

MANILA, Philippines – Metropolitan Bank and Trust Company (Metrobank) filed charges against two individuals, Hubert Co and Sue Sai, for allegedly conspiring with the bank’s ranking official in connection with the P900-million case of internal fraud.

But Co and Sai, through their lawyer, said they are ready to prove their innocence and help the authorities in bringing Maria Victoria Lopez, vice president of the Corporate Service Unit at Metrobank’s Makati head office, to justice.

In a 17-page complaint affidavit, the George Ty-owned bank filed charges before the Makati City Prosecutor’s Office against Lopez, Co, and Sai for “falsification of commercial documents as well as violation of the General Banking Law.”

Metrobank alleged that Lopez used her position to conspire with Co and Sai, making it appear that a major Metrobank corporate client issued a promissory note amounting to P900 million last June 16. (READ: Metrobank loses over P14B in market value amid fraud issue)

The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) arrested Lopez last month while she was trying to move the stolen money to an unspecified personal account. She is being detained at the NBI detention facility, while both Co and Sai are at large.

It is sad that Metrobank filed a complaint against my clients. My clients are innocent victims of Ms Lopez as she took advantage of them the same way she took advantage of Metrobank’s trust in her,” Reginald Tongol, lawyer of Co and Sai, said in a statement.

Tongol said Lopez fooled Co and Sai by personally borrowing from them and paying them with manager’s or cashier’s checks.

“To my clients’ minds their transactions with Ms Lopez are legal and aboveboard as simple loan contracts. They have no way of knowing that the money paid came from the other victims of Ms Lopez,” the lawyer said.

Tongol stressed that his clients were duped by Lopez into being “involuntary and unwilling participants” in her elaborate scheme.

“If she was able to fool a big bank like Metrobank with all its supposed security protocols surely she can fool simple people like my clients. We are ready to show their innocence and help the authorities in bringing Ms Lopez to justice,” the lawyer said.

NBI spokesperson Ferdinand Lavin said the 54-year-old Lopez, who was trusted by big corporate clients, had served the bank for over 3 decades and received a monthly salary of at least P250,000.

This is the latest controversy to hit the Philippine banking industry in the past few months.

Shares in Metrobank plunged to P86.50 each on Wednesday, August 2, from July 20’s P91.50. – Rappler.com

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