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Lawmaker wants NBI, Ombudsman probe into SSS execs

MANILA, Philippines – Makati 2nd District Representative Luis Campos Jr. on Wednesday, November 1, called on the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), the Office of the Ombudsman, and the Philippine Stock Exchange’s Capital Markets Integrity Corp (CMIC) to probe supposed anomalies by executives of the Social Security System (SSS) in the stock market.

“We are astounded at the manner in which the SSS’s second-highest ranking executive officer and 3 subordinates allegedly took advantage of their positions in transactions and acted for their own interests, rather than for the interests of the pension fund,” said Campos, a member of the House minority, in a statement.

SSS Commissioner Jose Gabriel La Viña had earlier accused SSS officials Executive Vice President (EVP) for Investments Rizaldy Capulong, VP for Equities Investment Division Reginald Candelaria, Equities Product Development head Ernesto Francisco Jr, and Actuarial and Risk Management Division chief George Ongkeko Jr of earning by trading stocks through stockbrokers who also managed the agency’s pension fund. (READ: SSS asked to stop contribution hike amid stock trading controversy)

“They may have committed prohibited dealings under the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees and the Ant-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act. This is why the NBI and the Ombudsman should get involved,” said Campos, a neophyte legislator.

The SSS is briefed by the stockbroker on good stocks and initial public offering offerings. “They can access this type of information that will allow them to earn profits because of their position. They used that information to profit for themselves," said La Viña, referring to Capulong, Candelaria, Francisco, and Ongkeko.

The Social Security Commission is already probing the allegations.

But Campos said the NBI should also step in and make a “forensic accounting” of the private stock trades by the 4 executives.

“They may have been front-running and tailgating. It is possible they bought shares for their personal accounts at a lower price before they sent out large buy orders for the SSS’s portfolio. And then they may have sold their shares once prices were driven up by the buy orders for the pension fund’s account,” said Campos.

The CMIC, which is the PSE’s “independent audit, surveillance and compliance unit,” should find out if the brokers gave the executives “margin or loan accounts that may have enabled them to conduct large trades and rake in huge profits for themselves without putting up a lot of their own cash,” said Campos. – Rappler.com