Ongpin on the offensive, to take BSP exec to courtBy Doris C. Dumlao
Philippine Daily Inquirer
Former Trade Minister Roberto V. Ongpin will take Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Deputy Governor Nestor Espenilla Jr. to court allegedly for violating the Anti-Graft Law.
Ongpin claimed the BSP official maintained a “contradictory” position on Philex Mining transactions, which led to the freezing of Ongpin’s bank accounts.
The criminal case stemmed from the decision of the Development Bank of the Philippines to lend to companies owned by Ongpin in 2009. The funds were used to buy Philex shares.
“Espenilla has caused my reputation the gravest damage by his signing an ex-parte petition with the Court of Appeals that my bank accounts be frozen,” Ongpin said in a statement Friday. “This action, which is totally without basis, is never taken lightly by anyone, not my international business partners, and certainly not by the investing public, which has lost for me several billions in market value of my listed shares. I cannot allow Espenilla to take this most serious action, whether deliberate or not, and let him get away with it.”
According to Ongpin, Espenilla testified under oath during last year’s Senate hearings that the DBP loans were “prudent and positive, and resulted in trading gains for DBP.”
But in November 2012, Ongpin said Espenilla submitted a petition to the Court of Appeals, stating that the DBP loans made to Ongpin were irregular. The BSP official also petitioned the court to issue a freeze order on Ongpin’s bank accounts, which was granted.
Ongpin said Espenilla must have “forgotten his testimony under oath during the Senate hearings, held last year.”
In 2009, Ongpin’s Deltaventure borrowed P660 million from DBP to finance the acquisition of Philex shares, including 50 million Philex shares owned by DBP. The loans have been fully paid well before maturity and with full interest.
Because of these transactions, Ongpin said the DBP was able to earn profits, including trading gains, amounting to P1.4 billion. He added that the DBP loans constituted a mere 17 percent of the total funds that Ongpin raised from six financial institutions to acquire the Philex shares.
These transactions were questioned when the new board of DBP took over in 2010. It was during the Senate probe on the matter that Espenilla declared under oath that the transactions of DBP with Ongpin were “prudent” and “positive,” resulting in “trading gains” for the bank, Ongpin said.
In November 2012, Espenilla, then acting chair of the Anti-Money Laundering Council, signed a resolution directing the ex-parte application for a freeze order against the accounts of 30 individuals and entities, including Ongpin and his companies for the same DBP-Philex transactions.
A freeze order was then issued by the Court of Appeals last December.
Ongpin said the freeze order had caused great damage to him, and decided to file a case, citing the Anti-Graft Law which punishes public officers who cause undue injury to any party in the discharge of his official functions.
But Espenilla said in the AMLC resolution that Ongpin had caused “undue injury” to DBP in terms of “opportunity profits” when the bank sold its 50 million Philex shares to Ongpin at P12.75 a share in November 2009, instead of selling the same to businessman Manny Pangilinan at P21 a share in December that same year.
Ongpin said the Ombudsman herself, in a resolution dated Sept. 24, 2012, dropped this “undue injury” charge and refused to find probable cause to charge any of the respondents, including Ongpin.