MANILA, Philippines – Businessman Roberto Ongpin on Sunday, July 24, slammed the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) ruling against him as unfair and vowed to bring the matter to the Court of Appeals (CA).
“I thought that the persecution under the Aquino administration had ended but apparently, the remaining minions of the past administration are still determined to get me,” Ongpin said in a statement released by his lawyer.
The SEC announced last Friday, July 22, that it had barred Ongpin from sitting on the board of any publicly listed firm and ordered him to pay a fine of P174 million in an en banc ruling issued on July 8.
The ruling is in connection with alleged insider trading when Ongpin bought Philex shares in 2009 a few days before he sold a large sum of shares to Manuel V. Pangilinan at an agreed price.
‘No insider trading’
In the statement, Ongpin said that the current case pertains to the same case that was filed at the Sandiganbayan by the Ombudsman several years ago, involving the Development Bank of the Philippines.
The case, his legal representatives pointed out, was quashed twice by the Sandiganbayan for lack of probable cause and did not go to trial.
“The Ombudsman had alleged that DBP was damaged by Ongpin in the case, whereas in truth and in fact, the DBP benefited by P1.4 billion,” the statement read.
Ongpin’s camp emphasized that “the case was shifted by the SEC to an insider trading case although there is no evidence whatsoever regarding insider trading.”
It continued: “Ongpin was simply negotiating a price with Mr. Manny Pangilinan, which was a straightforward commercial transaction and was never based on any insider information.”
More significantly, Ongpin said, the case was filed almost a full year after the two-year deadline imposed by the Securities Regulation Code.
‘Pattern of harassment’
He added that the penalties imposed on him by the SEC were “cruel and unusual punishment,” effectively forcing him to go out of business.
Ongpin sits as chairman of two listed firms: PhilWeb Corporation and Atok Big Wedge Incorporated.
Ongpin’s camp also highlighted the fact that the SEC en banc’s penalty of P174 million was 10 times more than than what was recommended by the SEC’s own Enforcement and Investor Protection Department (EIPD).
It said the penalty was “unconscionable and in fact, confiscatory and only emphasizes the clear bias of the SEC against Mr. Ongpin.”
“From the start of the Aquino administration, there had been a pattern of harassment of Mr. Ongpin with a total of 6 cases having been filed against him by various agencies of the government. But all of them had been either quashed or dismissed,” Ongpin’s camp said. – Rappler.com