Roberto Ongpin resigns as PhilWeb chairman

Chrisee Dela Paz

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Roberto Ongpin resigns as PhilWeb chairman
(UPDATED) His resignation comes on the heels of President Rodrigo Duterte's pronouncements to do away with 'oligarchs' like Ongpin

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Roberto Ongpin has resigned as chairman and director of listed online gaming firm PhilWeb Corporation, after President Rodrigo Duterte publicly threatened to “destroy” the businessman and other “oligarchs.”

In front of election volunteers in Malacañang Palace on Wednesday, August 3, Duterte had said that he wants to destroy the oligarchs embedded in the government.

“I’ll give you an example, publicly – Ongpin, Roberto,” Duterte told the election volunteers.

Based on a copy of Ongpin’s resignation letter submitted to the local bourse on Thursday, August 4, he said he was quitting from PhilWeb and its subsidiaries “effective immediately” to “focus on the real estate projects of Alphaland Corporation.”

Following Duterte’s remarks, PhilWeb shares plunged by 36.88% apiece on Thursday.

Duterte had described Ongpin as a businessman close to people in power and implied he used his political influence to strengthen his businesses. Ongpin had been trade secretary during the Marcos regime.

Despite TRO, SEC continues legal battle 

Meanwhile, local corporate regulators will work with the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) to “strongly oppose” Ongpin’s petition to stop them from imposing fines and penalties against him involving insider trading of Philex Mining Corporation shares back in 2009.

Last Monday, August 1, the Court of Appeals (CA) stopped the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) from enforcing its en banc decision on Ongpin’s insider trading case involving Philex Mining.

“While the SEC abides by the temporary restraining order, it believes that its issuance does not satisfy the stringent requisites for the issuance of the extraordinary writ,” the SEC said.

The SEC’s en banc decision barred the former trade minister from joining the board of any publicly listed company, and fined him P174 million or P1 million each for 174 counts of insider trading.

These charges only involve the administrative aspect of Ongpin’s insider trading case.

The SEC said these fines are distinct from the criminal action, which it may file with the Department of Justice (DOJ).

“The accused in such action shall upon conviction suffer a fine of not less than P50,000 nor more than P5 million or imprisonment of not less than 7 years nor more than 21 years, or both at the discretion of the court,” the corporate regulators said.

SEC Chairperson Teresita Herbosa, who is also a litigation lawyer, said in a separate statement that the general rule is that an appeal shall not stay a judgment under appeal.

“The CA can only direct otherwise upon such terms as may be just under the circumstances,” Herbosa added.

She further stressed that what should have been considered was the “paramount importance of preserving the integrity of the capital markets.”

The local corporate regulators accused Ongpin of insider trading when he bought Philex shares in 2009, a few days before he sold a huge sum of shares to businessman Manuel V. Pangilinan at an agreed price.

Shares of Atok Big Wedge Incorporated, where Ongpin sits as chairman, also dipped by 11.02% on Thursday–

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