Gov’t mulls another suit vs Ongpin to get funds back
The government may pursue another legal action against businessman Roberto V. Ongpin in a bid to have him forfeit the profit his company made from the alleged irregular P660 million loan extended to him by the previous board of the Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP), Solicitor General Jose Anselmo Cadiz said on Sunday.
According to Cadiz, documents culled by current DBP officials clearly showed that Ongpin and past DBP officials had violated antigraft laws and other pertinent banking rules in approving the loan.
“Pursuant to Malacañang’s zero-tolerance policy on grafters, the government will definitely go after those who appear to be the most guilty,” Cadiz said in a statement.
He said state lawyers “may also opt to initiate actions to forfeit the income derived from the transactions in favor of the government.”
Cadiz said that available documentary evidence and testimonies of several personalities showed that the Aquino administration “has a strong case” against Ongpin, trade minister during the regime of dictator Ferdinand Marcos, and his co-accused.
He said Ongpin used the loan to buy shares of stock in Philex Mining Corp. at P12.75 per share, which he later sold to Manuel V. Pangilinan’s Metro Pacific Group as part of a bloc at P21 per share.
Ongpin has vehemently denied the transaction was highly irregular, claiming that the DBP in fact made money from the interest of the loan which was repaid way ahead of its maturity and which was fully collateralized.
On Aug. 5, the DBP filed a case for graft and violation of banking laws against Ongpin, two other private individuals and 25 past and incumbent DBP officials in the Office of the Ombudsman.
The controversy purportedly led to the suicide of DBP lawyer Benjamin Pinpin who was said to have been pressured into signing an affidavit insinuating irregularities in the transaction and to implicate Ongpin and past DBP officials who approved the loan.
DBP insiders claimed that the manner by which the investigation was being handled by the present board had led to demoralization among officials and rank-and-file employees of DBP, many of whom have served the bank since the Ferdinand Marcos regime.
Ongpin, whose multimillion-peso loan was reportedly approved by the DBP’s risk management committee, executive credit committee and board of directors in a single day, has been linked to Jose Miguel “Mike” Arroyo, the husband of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. Ongpin has admitted being a friend of Arroyo’s.
“The real question is whether DBP officials violated banking laws and (their) own rules to engage in speculation using state funds when the DBP’s thrust is medium and small industries,” Cadiz said.
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