Word war: BSP says Ongpin is wrong, defends central bank official
MANILA, Philippines - It is the turn of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) to answer allegations of Roberto V. Ongpin, one of the country's richest.
On Tuesday, January 8, the BSP released a strongly worded statement against Ongpin who had slammed the banking industry regulator for 'unfairly' treating him in Philippine Bank of Communications (PBCOm), and a high-ranking BSP official for ordering the freezing of his bank accounts.
The BSP said it is "unfortunate" that Ongpin considered the decision of its policy making body, the Monetary Board, to defer his confirmation as PBCom board director. Ironically, Ongpin used to be a member of the Monetary Board when he was an official under the Marcos regime decades ago.
"For the record, the Monetary Board has not denied but simply deferred Mr. Ongpin's confirmation pending completion of assessment of certain material information," the BSP said, responding to Ongpin's claims that the BSP's action on his election as director of PBCom was "unwarranted and patently unfair" since no court case has been filed against him.
The BSP did not provide details on the "material information" it was waiting for to confirm Ongpin as a PBCom director.
"The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas has the responsibility to ensure that careful evaluation of critical elements is made before final decisions are promulgated," the regulator added.
Ongpin resigned as chairman of PBCom board in December 2012, then sold his stakes in the mid-sized bank to his nephew Eric Recto, the bank's chairman.
The BSP also came to the defense of Deputy Gov. Nestor A. Espenilla whom Ongpin had said he planned to sue for graft.
The BSP said it was "concerned" that Ongpin had singled out Espenilla for the decision of the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) to ask the appellate court to have his bank accounts frozen in December. Ongpin, a former trade minister, said last January 4 that Espenilla violated the anti-graft law and caused "great damage and prejudice" to him.
Ongpin's decision to file graft charges versus Espenilla is "wrong" & "unfortunate," the BSP said, explaining that the petition to freeze Ongpin's and other individuals' bank accounts came from Office of the Solicitor General, in line with the Ombudsman's complaint on P660 million alleged behest loans extended to his group by the state-owned Development Bank of the Philippines in 2009.
"Mr. Ongpin is wrong. The Court of Appeals said probable cause exists to freeze the subject bank accounts based on the AMLC petition filed by the lawyers of the Office of the Solicitor General, the AMLC's statutory counsel," BSP wrote.
The BSP stressed that Espenilla was not the cause for the freezing of Ongpin's accounts because the Deputy Governor was only acting as BSP's officer-in-charge at the AMLC.
It explained that BSP Governor Amando Tetangco Jr., a member of the AMLC, was away on business at the time the petition to the Court of Appeals for the freezing of Ongpin's accounts were presented to the AMLC.
"By law, AMLC decisions should be approved by all three members (of the AMLC): the heads of the BSP, the Insurance Commission and the Securities and Exchange Commission," the regulator said. - Rappler.com