Cedric Lee questions graft charges over Bataan public market deal

Cedric Lee questions graft charges over Bataan public market deal
The businessman says the Ombudsman didn't give him the opportunity to present his side, and claims the Mariveles municipal government owes him P7.46 million

MANILA, Philippines – Controversial businessman Cedric Lee challenged the validity of graft and malversation cases filed against him on June 21 by the Office of the Ombudsman in relation to the allegedly anomalous release of funds for the construction of a public market.

In a 28-page motion submitted on Tuesday, June 30, Lee asked the anti-graft court Sandiganbayan to determine the existence of probable cause in the case, and claimed that he was not accorded the opportunity to present his side.

Lee was named co-defendant of former Mariveles, Bataan, mayor Angel Peliglorio Jr, who was accused of authorizing the release of P16.54 million to Lee’s firm, general contractor Izumo Contractors Incorporated (Izumo), which won the contract for the construction of the Mariveles Public Market in 2005.

The release of fund is said to lack procedural safeguards and violated audit rules.

Lee claimed that his firm indeed received money from the municipal government, but it was in payment for “hydrological/geological studies, architectural design, detailed engineering design, soil sampling, topography profiling, bankable comprehensive feasibility study and other related expenses” that Izumo did as part of the contract.

He also said that his firm was even underpaid by P7.46 million because the total contract actually cost P24 million, and that he was advised to file a petition with the Commission on Audit to direct the municipal government to pay him in full.

“Simply stated, Izumo Contractors took a risk and spent its own money for the project. It is worth stressing that all of the reports of the studies done were properly turned over to the concerned LGU (local government unit) and the bank because it was a prerequisite of the bank to approve the loan,” Lee said in his motion.

Peliglorio, however, claimed it was the incumbent mayor, Jesse Concepcion, who ordered the project stopped when he took over as local chief executive.

In challenging the validity of the cases, Lee added that he was not given a chance to present his side because the documents, pleadings, and orders neither reached his house nor Izumo’s office, both in Quezon City.

Lee argued that subjecting him to a trial despite having been denied due process would be vexatious.

In 2014, the Bureau of Internal Revenue filed criminal complaints against Izumo and its 3 officers, including Lee, for allegedly evading taxes. Lee claimed it was his corporate accountant who was at fault. – Rappler.com


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