From word war, Ongpin-BSP drama shifts to legal battle
MANILA, Philippines - After engaging in a word war with the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) for days, businessman Roberto V. Ongpin has made good on his promise to file charges against BSP Deputy Governor Nestor Espenilla Jr.
Alex Poblador, Ongpin's lawyer, filed on Thursday morning, January 10, a complaint-affidavit before the Office of the Ombudsman against Espenilla, claiming the central bank executive violated Section 3 of the Anti-Graft Law.
Section 3(e) of the law, otherwise known as Republic Act No. 3019, punishes public officers for “causing undue injury to any party including the Government in the discharge of his official functions, or giving any private party unwarranted benefits, advantage or preference in the discharge of his functions, through manifest partiality, evident bad faith or gross inexcusable negligence.”
In his complaint, Ongpin accused Espenilla of causing him and his companies undue injury after the latter signed an Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) resolution asking the Court of Appeals to have the businessman's bank accounts frozen.
The move was in connection to investigations into P660-million alleged behest loan deals between Ongpin and officials of state-run Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP) in 2009.
The freeze order issued by the court resulted in a big erosion in the value of his shareholdings in publicly listed companies PhilWeb Corp., Alphaland Corp., Atok Big Wedge Co. Inc., ISM Communications and Philippine Bank of Communications, Ongpin claimed. He disclosed his shareholdings dropped by a total of P8 billion when the freeze order was publicized and extended for another 6 months.
“Because of this enormous financial damage done to me by Mr. Espenilla, I will also file a major civil suit against [him],” Ongpin said in a statement.
Moreover, Ongpin said Espenilla acted “with evident bad faith” when he signed the AMLC resolution, which opposed his earlier position on the DBP loans. Ongpin used the loan proceeds to purchase a portion of DBP's stake in copper-gold miner Philex Mining Corp.
“He acknowledged under oath during a Senate probe that from the point of view of the BSP as the regulator of banks, the sale by DBP of its 50 million Philex shares to a company beneficially owned and controlled by Ongpin was a 'prudent' and 'positive' transaction that resulted in 'trading gains' for the bank,” Ongpin's statement read.
“We have faith in the judicial system and we hope that the Ombudsman will be impartial in evaluating the complaint we filed against a ranking officer of the Bangko Sentral,” said Poblador.
Rappler is trying to get Espenilla's comment on the case as of posting.
Below is a copy of the filed complaint provided by the Ongpin camp.