LBC Dev’t bank borrower arrested for P230M estafa case
MANILA, Philippines—A cousin of former First Gentleman Jose Miguel Arroyo, who has an outstanding warrant for syndicated estafa, was arrested at his home in a posh subdivision in Muntinlupa City on Tuesday.
Arrested was Benito Ramon Araneta, one of those accused of misappropriating nearly P230 million from a bank that went bankrupt in 2011, the Philippine National Police (PNP) announced on Wednesday.
Araneta is facing 15 counts of estafa for allegedly “colluding” with former LBC Development Bank president Ma. Eliza Berenguer to defraud the bank.
The case, earlier lodged in the Department of Justice (DOJ) by the Philippine Deposit Insurance Corp. (PDIC) on behalf of bank depositors, is being heard at the Makati Regional Trial Court Branch 143.
Presiding Judge Maximo M. de Leon released a warrant for Araneta’s arrest on Aug. 1.
Araneta was arrested at his home on Acacia Avenue in Ayala Alabang subdivision at 4:10 p.m on Aug. 12.
He did not resist the arrest by a joint team from the PNP Intelligence Group-National Capital Region and the Muntinlupa City police, the PNP spokesperson, Chief Supt. Reuben Theodore Sindac, said at a press briefing.
A statement, posted in 2013 on the PDIC website, said the PDIC complaint in the DOJ accused Berenguer of directly instructing the principal officers of LBC Bank to divert funds of the bank to deposit accounts owned by Araneta and five other borrowers from October 2006 to January 2008.
“Araneta was able to borrow money totaling P229,469,505.10. In collusion with Ms Berenguer, they were able to appropriate the money for personal use. During the stint of Ms Berenguer as president, it was shown that Mr. Araneta already paid, but in fact, he never paid the money he borrowed from LBC Bank,” Sindac said, quoting the results of the PDIC probe when it took over the bank upon its closure on Sept. 9, 2011.
Sindac said the “unsafe and unsound banking practices resulted in damage [to] an undeterminable number of depositors and [to] their hard-earned money.”
Araneta is now detained with the Intelligence Group.
Senior Supt. Allan Nobleza, Muntinlupa City’s chief of police, said the court did not recommend bail for Araneta.
Nobleza said members of the PNP Intelligence Group of the National Capital Region spearheaded the operation while the city police acted as support.
“(The IG) coordinated with us when the arrest was conducted,” he explained.
He said no firearms were found inside the house when police went to serve the warrant.
Roselyn Sato, who is in charge of criminal cases in Branch 143, said that as of 4:03 p.m. Wednesday, the court had yet to receive the report that Araneta had been arrested.
“We’ve been hearing things (about his arrest) but we haven’t received the report that says who arrested him and other details yet,” she said over the phone.
She said that upon the submission of a report by arresting authorities, a commitment order specifying where Araneta should be detained would be issued by the court.
She did not, however, give a period within which the commitment order would be issued. “That depends on the judge. We only give the documents (to be acted on),” she said.
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