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How did CJ get a loan from ‘dead’ company?

Carmela Fonbuena
On day 9 of the trial, the prosecution plans to bring up the family corporation of Cristina Corona

MANILA, Philippines – On Tuesday, January 31, the prosecution panel will tackle the Basa Guidote Enterprises Inc (BGEI), the now-moribund company owned by the family of Cristina Corona, wife of impeached Chief Justice Renato Corona.

Basa Guidote was managed by Cristina Corona. In his 2003 Statement of Asset, Liabilities, and Net Worth (SALN), the Chief Justice declared an P11-million loan from the company.

He said the loan was used to buy a 1,200-sq-m lot in the posh La Vista subdivision in Quezon City in September 2003.

In his SALN, Corona declared that he bought the lot for only P3-M. A deed of absolute sale however shows that the property was purchased for P11-M.

Corona’s SALNs indicate that he started paying back the loan in 2005. It went down to P10-million in 2005; P8-million in 2006; P6.5-million in 2007; P5-million in 2008; P3-million in 2009.

The loan was apparently fully paid by 2010, since it no longer appeared in his SALN that year.

But records show that Basa Guidote was revoked by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) in 2003, the same year when Corona said he borrowed P11-M from the company.

The question is: How did the Chief Justice take a loan from a revoked company? And who was receiving his payment from 2005 to 2009?

“We’ll have an SEC official as to the existence of such a coporation because that’s stated in the SALN of Chief Justice Corona. I think it’s important because the charge is failing to disclose accurately the SALN, we have the right to inquire into all these matters,” said prosecution spokesperson Juan Edgardo Angara.

Estafa vs Cristina

The crown jewel of BGEI and its only property was a 1,000 sq-m lot in Manila with a commercial building that was leased to about 8 tenants.

Cristina, various court documents show, claimed she was a stockholder, vice president and assistant corporate secretary of BGEI. She leased the building and collected rentals.

The rest of the Basas disputed this, saying she was never authorized to take over these functions. They further claimed that Cristina did not account for any of the collections.

The Basas sued her for estafa. Cristina sued her aunts and uncles for libel, including Sister Flor who, at the time, was in her early 80s.

In March 2001, reportedly with the help of her husband, she sold the property to the city government of Manila for P34.7 million.

At the time, the Manila City government, then under Mayor Jose “Lito” Atienza, expropriated the land which they would use to relocate stallholders of the Sampaloc markets displaced by the MRT. (Renato Corona was working with President Arroyo at the time of the sale.)

The Basas cried foul, saying they were not informed of the proposal to sell the land. The check for P34.7 million was reportedly paid to Cristina Corona “in trust for BGEI.”

Till today, 9 years after the sale, the side of the Basa majority says that Cristina has not yet accounted for a single centavo of the multi-million peso revenue. Read the full story here.

Finished this week

The prosecution intends to wrap up this week its presentation of evidence for Article 2, the failure of the Chief Justice to disclose his SALN.

After Monday’s testimonies of property developers from Megaworld and Ayala Land, the prosecution panel said they are confident that they were able to sway the senator-jurors to convict the Chief Justice.

Prosecution spokesperson Romero Quimbo said they completed the picture. He said the SALN showed his properties; the tax records supposedly showed theChief Justice couldn’t possibly afford the properties; and the developers showed questionable ways that allowed the Chief Justice to acquire the properties.

One property, Bellagio for example was apparently bought by the Chief Justice at 40 percent discount. This is more than the normal discounts that property clients are usually given, they said, indicating that the discount was given to the Chief Justice to get his side in pending cases involving the developers.

The defense dismissed the evidence presented by the prosecution. They said they will present less than 20 witnesses to disprove claims by the prosecution panel against the Chief Justice. – Rappler.com