MANILA, Philippines – Government lawyers asked the Supreme Court to stop the impending merger of the Philippine National Bank and the Allied Bank as part of its bid to recover alleged ill-gotten wealth of tycoon Lucio Tan.
In a 20-page motion, the government through Solicitor General Francis Jardeleza urged the high court to put Allied Bank assets in custodial egis (custody of the law) until the rightful owner is determined.
“It bears stressing that Allied Bank and all its assets are alleged to be ill-gotten and subject of litigation,” the government lawyer said.
On September last year, the Sandiganbayan dismissed with finality Civil Case 0005 which is about the government’s claim on Tan’s 60 percent holdings in various companies.
In affirming its June 2012 ruling, the anti-graft court said the government failed to present enough evidence to prove that majority of Tan’s assets were ill-gotten. The case is already with the Supreme Court.
The government is seeking forfeiture of Tan’s assets from Allied Bank, Fortune Tobacco Corporation, Asia Brewery Inc., Foremost Farms, Himmel Industries Inc., Grandspan Development Corporation, Silangan Holdings Inc. and Dominium Realty and Construction Corporation.
The planned merger between PNB and Allied Bank was approved by the Securities and Exchange Commission early this year.
The government said, if the merger would push through, it will not only dilute Tan’s stake in the bank but will also be more difficult to trace.