MANILA, Philippines – The companies of businessman Antonio Tiu have attracted multi-million investments despite operating on losses for at least 5 years. Tiu has been tagged as a mere dummy of Vice President Jejomar Binay and has been accused of being an alleged accomplice in cloaking his alleged hidden wealth.
The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has flagged Tiu’s companies for “incomplete disclosures” and has ordered the businessman to submit an explanation. He was also tasked to submit “corrective measures to be undertaken” relevant to the initial findings of the SEC. (READ: SEC tells Antonio Tiu to explain ‘incomplete disclosures’)
The SEC reviewed the submissions of AgriNurture Inc (ANI), Greenergy Holdings Inc (GHI), Sunchamp Real Estate Development Corporation, and Earthright Holdings Inc after these companies were mentioned at the Senate Blue Ribbon sub-committee probing into the overpriced Makati City Hall Building 2.
The probe has expanded to include other big-ticket construction projects in Makati city, as well as alleged hidden assets of the Vice President, particularly, the 350-hectare property in Rosario, Batangas, which Tiu claims he owns through Sunchamp.
Tiu is the chairman and president of GHI that owns Sunchamp. He is also chairman of ANI and chairman and president of Earthright.
SEC data analysis
SEC disclosures obtained by the office of Senator Alan Peter Cayetano on Tiu’s companies showed the following significant findings:
- Since 2009, GHI has been operating at a loss, yet it was still able to lure investors, with total equities jumping from P320 million to P1.5 billion by 2013.
- In 2012, Sunchamp indicated a net loss of P1.334 million and in 2013, a net loss of P1.149 million. Yet in 2013 and 2014, Sunchamp poured P132 million as balance payments for its remaining GHI shares.
- Earthright’s investments in GHI and ANI also appear to be peculiar. In 2012, it poured a total of P188.307 million into GHI and ANI. However, the 2012 financial statement of Earthright showed it incurred a net loss of P11.489 million. The year before, it suffered a net loss of P14,007.
- For the past 3 years, the British Virgin Islands (BVI) company, Southern Field Investment, appears to be GHI’s biggest investor. From 2011 to 2013, Southern Field invested P210 million. The company is wholly-owned and controlled by Richard Salazar as sole director. Salazar is a partner of Subido, Pagente, Certeza, Mendoza and Binay law office, where Binay’s daughter, Makati Rep. Mar-Len Abigail Binay is a partner.
In a previous interview with Rappler, Tiu downplayed suggestions that his companies are engaging in anomalous business practices. He explained the movements in his companies, like capital infusion, were a result of consolidating subsidiaries.
He stressed he has nothing to hide and that all the financial data are publicly available. Besides, he added, if he was hiding, why would he list down the two BVI companies – one his and the other, Salazar’s – in their disclosures?
Those familiar with investments also say it’s not unusual for investors to decide to put their money in companies not making a profit when the forecast shows a possible turnaround in the future. The involvement of Abigail Binay’s law firm partner as the owner of Southern Field Investment, GHI’s largest investor, however raises questions.
If there is one thing Tiu is not willing to reveal to the Senate it’s his bank accounts. Despite the prodding of senators, Tiu refused to waive his right to keep his accounts secret, arguing that this would put his family at risk. Beyond security risks, Tiu said, revealing his accounts would mean the end of his career as a businessman.
“It’s better to come off as hiding something rather than putting my family, businesses, and business partners at risk,” he told Rappler.
In reaction to the initial SEC findings, Tiu said his lawyers will “officially respond” and “clarify matters as soon as possible.”
Critics have accused him of fronting for Binay to hide his alleged hidden wealth, with personalities identified with the Vice President’s family sitting as board directors in his companies.
For one, Martin Subido, Binay’s legal counsel and a law firm partner of his daughter Mar-Len Abigail, sits as director and holds different positions in GHI, Sunchamp, ANI and Earthright.
Another is University of Makati president Tomas Lopez Jr, who is also director of ANI. Lopez sits as trustee in the Pag-ibig Fund, chaired by Binay. Lopez is also director and treasurer of Agrifortuna Inc, a company put up by Binay and his wife Elenita and the Vice President’s former law partners in 1992. The Binays supposedly sold their shares to businessman Laureano Gregorio, who now controls Agrifortuna.
Agrifortuna supposedly owns the alleged Hacienda Binay in Rosario, Batangas, over which Tiu has acquired control.
In its findings, the SEC said GHI’s 62.39%’s ownership of Sunchamp means the latter should have been listed as subsidiary.
As of June 5, 2014, GHI’s capital contributions to Sunchamp stood at P365 million, while Tiu had P60.676 million for a 36% ownership. Sunchamp, for its part, had a paid up capital contribution to GHI of P176 million, representing a 9.45% share.
GHI’s financials showed it has been in the red even as its total equities rose from P320.242 million worth of shares to P1.5 billion in 2013.
The table below shows its income disclosures:
|2009||(P16.452 million loss)|
|2010||(P52.139 million loss)|
|2011||(P181.245 million loss)|
|2012||(P63.753 million loss)|
|2013||(P61.715 million loss)|
For its part, Sunchamp’s financial statement (FS) showed it has investments in stocks worth P35 million as of December 2012, but it did not disclose where these were parked.
In 2012, it indicated P3 million incurred expenses in connection with “the future transfer and use of a real property” but this was not identified in the FS.
While it claims it owns the sprawling Batangas property, Sunchamp did not declare any landholdings in its 2011-2012 FS.
In 2006, Sunchamp declared only P1.662 million in total assets. By 2013, its total assets stood at P170.102 million.
The table below shows its income from 2006 to 2013:
|2006||No commercial operation|
|2007||No commercial operation|
Earthright and ANI
Like its sister companies, Earthright also operated at a loss. Its 2011 and 2012 FS showed it incurred P14,007 and P11.489 million losses for those years, respectively. Earthright’s total assets rose from P250,353 in 2011 to P989.303 million in 2012. However, its liabilities rose from P14,060 in 2011 to P1 billion in 2012.
ANI, for its part, appears to be the most profitable among Tiu’s companies, registering positive incomes. In 2002, it posted a P28,159 income after 5 years of operating in the red. By 2011, it posted an income of P192.86 million.
In 2012, it registered income losses amounting P798.346 million, but rebounded in 2013 with a P22.446-million income. – with reports from Bea Cupin/Rappler.com
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