Corona’s cash: P31-M, so far

Rappler.com
Will his 2010 SALN pin him down?

UNEXPLAINED. Graph shows how Chief Justice Renato Corona's BPI and PSBank peso time deposit balances compare against his SALN disclosures

MANILA, Philippines – On Dec 31, 2007, then Associate Justice Renato Corona declared in his sworn Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth (SALN) total cash and investments worth P2.5 million. That same year, he had a deposit of P5 million (P5,069,711.18) in his Bank of Philippine Islands-Ayala Avenue bank account, and another P5 million (P5,018,255.26) in his PSBank-Katipunan account.

Two years later, in 2009, still as an associate justice of the Supreme Court, Corona declared in his SALN P2.5 million worth of cash and investments. That same year, he had P8.5 million in one bank alone, PSBank-Katipunan, Quezon City.

This was also the year when he finished paying for his Fort Bonifacio Bellagio unit that cost P14.5 million. A Megaworld executive earlier testified that the Coronas managed to pay the unit within a year, from 2008-2009. (Corona only declared this Bellagio property in his 2010 SALN.)

On Dec 31, 2010, or 7 months after he was appointed Chief Justice, he declared in his SALN total cash and investments worth P3.5 million. This same year marked the time when his cash and investments ballooned.

By end of December 2010, Corona had P12 million (P12,024,067.70) in his BPI-Ayala account and P20 million (P19,728,55.39) in his PSBank-Katipunan account, based on bank records presented to the Senate impeachment court this past week.

In short, as of December 2010, Corona had bank deposits of P31,752,623.09.

Since he declared only P3.5 million in “cash and investments” for the same year, he’s short of P28,252,623.09 in his sworn statement.

Explanation

Where and how did he acquire these millions? And why did he not declare them?

When asked about this, defense counsel Ramon Esguerra told reporters: Is it Corona’s money? He seemed to be hinting that Corona may have deposited this in trust for other people.

The 2010 SALN of the Chief Justice appears the most problematic, and it’s not just because of his undeclared bank deposits.

It is only in his 2010 SALN where Corona declares the 3 properties that he acquired in previous years in Makati and Taguig: the Columns (bought in 2004 for P3.5 million); Bonifacio Ridge (bought and paid for in 2004 for P9.1 million); and Bellagio (bought and paid for in 3 installments from 2008 to 2009 for P14.5 million.)

Corona made a “note” in his 2010 SALN, which reads: “We sold two parcels of land in QC to purchase/pay the loans for condo units 4 and 5.” He was referring to Bonifacio Ridge and Bellagio, which, according to testimonies made before the impeachment court, had already been fully paid for by 2004, in the case of Bonifacio Ridge, and 2009, in the case of Bellagio.

The Quezon City properties of the Coronas, however, (Ayala Heights and La Vista) were sold only in 2010.

To BPI-Ayala

The story doesn’t end here.

On Monday, the prosecution and the defense will be visiting the BPI-Ayala office to check Corona’s bank records, upon orders of the impeachment court.

The defense said, however, they intend to file a manifestation asking the impeachment court to disallow the prosecution from seeing Corona’s bank statements with BPI. Lead counsel Serafin Cuevas also tried to withdraw their request for a subpoena of Corona’s bank statements.

PSBank, on the other hand, has confirmed to the impeachment court that Corona has dollar accounts, but the Supreme Court on Friday issued a TRO on the subpoena that covers such dollar accounts.

The senator-judges will decide in their Monday caucus on whether or not to heed the High Tribunal’s order. Some of them have argued that the impeachment court is not a co-equal branch of the High Tribunal and is, in fact, supreme.  – Rappler.com

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