Biz Buzz: What top clients have to say about RCBC | Inquirer Business

Biz Buzz: What top clients have to say about RCBC

/ 12:00 AM April 06, 2016

Embattled Rizal Commercial Banking Corp. has trotted out a slew of big names and high-profile clients to buttress its public standing given the steady stream of adverse publicity from the $81-million money laundering scheme.

And if the roster of the bank’s “crisis endorsers” is any indication, it looks like the Yuchengco family-controlled financial institution really called in a few favors, so to speak, in order to have its business allies support it publicly.

Initially, RCBC brought out its vice chair, Cesar Virata, speak about the bank’s virtues, followed by former Finance Secretary Roberto de Ocampo making a public appeal that all succeeding hearings not be aired over live television and instead be held behind closed doors (that plea clearly didn’t work).


Then came the “grand old man” of Philippine business, Washington Sycip, who was also brought out to reassure the jittery investment community that the money laundering scandal would not affect the country’s business environment.


Yesterday, RCBC laid out a few more “endorsers,” including San Miguel Corp. chief financial officer Ferdinand Constantino, who said: “We are confident that with the stable foundation with which RCBC was built on, and with the solid shareholders and strong leadership of its board of directors, the issue that the bank is now facing will make them even stronger and more committed to provide excellent service to clients such as the San Miguel group.”

Luis Juan L. Virata, chair and chief executive of CLSA Exchange Capital Corp., also expressed his support for RCBC. “In my dealings with RCBC, I have been witness to the professionalism, stringent moral fiber and strict adherence to work ethics of this institution led by its chair, Helen Y. Dee, and its president and CEO, Lorenzo V. Tan,” he said. “My trust and confidence in Helen, Lorenzo and the whole RCBC team is as strong as ever and the strength of this institution will weather this unfortunate circumstance. I am fully behind RCBC.”


Carlos Chan of the Liwayway Group, on the other hand, assured RCBC of the company’s continued faith and support, saying that “the relationship between RCBC and the Liwayway Group dates back to June 2005 and in that more than a decade, we have been very satisfied with the service of the bank.”

Michael Escaler, president of All Asian Countertrade Inc., also has reassured the company’s unwavering belief and trust in RCBC. “Without our partnership, we wouldn’t be where we are today,” Escaler noted.

Also throwing their collective clout behind RCBC were Megaworld Corp. chair and CEO Andrew Tan (“RCBC has been a solid partner of Megaworld in its corporate banking requirements.”); Vista Land chair Manuel B. Villar Jr. (“The group shall continue to vest upon RCBC its full trust and confidence.”); Injap Investments CEO Injap Sia (“They have my continued trust and confidence.”), and Laus Group chair and president Levy Laus (“We benefit from their very reliable banking services and high level of professionalism.”).

Given this roster of the who’s who in the business community, it’s probably fair to say that RCBC cashed in its chips in order to get their clients’ public support. Well, given the involvement of casinos in this caper, perhaps “chips” is the wrong figure of speech to use. Daxim L. Lucas

Expert advice

AMID the current trials and travails of RCBC CEO-on-leave Lorenzo Tan, there is still a loyal group of friends and colleagues surrounding the embattled banker. As the saying goes, “the toughest crisis demands the most loyal allies” and this is certainly the biggest challenge that Tan has faced in his long and storied career.

According to our sources, Tan has supposedly been seeking expert advice from way up top, namely Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima. Their close friendship is widely known in the industry, both having gone to the Kellogg School of Management in Northwestern University. It is said that in Tan’s inner circle, he values Purisima’s counsel the most.

If this is true, then there is much wisdom behind this decision. After all, the country is facing a severe financial controversy due to money laundering and our reputation has taken a beating in the international financial community.

Through it all, the man who serves as secretary of finance, the chair of the Cabinet Economic Development Cluster and a member of the Monetary Board of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas has flown completely under the radar and remains unblemished. When it comes to dodging bullets, you might as well ask THE expert. Daxim L. Lucas

Moving on

THE JOSE Abad Santos Memorial School (JASMS) Parents Association (JPA)—the basic education arm of embattled Philippine Women’s University (PWU)—is not happy with the amicable settlement stuck by majority of the Benitez family with the STI Group of businessman Eusebio Tanco.

JPA has appealed to the Department of Education (DepEd) and the National Council on Disability Affairs (NCDA) to intervene on its behalf. More than 20 percent of the students of JASMS were children with special needs and this move would create irreparable damage to their developmental well-being,” the association said in a press statement.

JPA claimed that the students and their families were not consulted nor informed of any alternative plans before the deal was consummated. Under the deal, JASMS can stay on the Quezon City campus only until the end of school year 2017, after which it will be transferred to a still undisclosed location.

“The 800 students of PWU-JASMS QC from various levels and their families are now perplexed and confused regarding the stability and future of their education. Under the current rules and regulations of DepEd, students and their families are assured of finishing their education without undue difficulties. Conditions that would change the education that students enrolled in cannot be imposed unless agreed to by the parents,” JPA said.

Under a peace pact, PWU will remain under the control of the Benitez family but it was a bitter pill to swallow as the clan had to give up in favor of STI two pieces of property, including the 1.5-hectare land along Edsa in Quezon City where JASMS (alongside a 4-hectare property in Davao). PWU, on the other hand, will retain its Manila campuses on Taft Avenue and Indiana Street in Manila.

For her part, PWU media director Lyca Benitez-Brown assured in a phone interview that JASMS would continue operations beyond 2017 in a “more comfortable” site, adding that 60-65 percent of the parents had already agreed to such relocation and some had even joined ocular inspections.

Even if the Benitez family fought to keep JASMS on its current location, Brown said the school “won’t be left in peace” given that the frontage of the property was already previously acquired by Tanco. “The family really believes that if we continue the fight and we don’t have enough resources, the schools will just suffer,” Brown said, adding that the family had already received “overwhelming” support from alumni on the settlement deal. Henceforth, she said it was time for everyone to move on.

“JASMS is not a location. It’s a pedological philosophy, which means giving the students an environment that is not at risk, free from disorder and that’s all that we’re trying to do,” she said Doris Dumlao-Abadilla

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TAGS: money laundering, RCBC, Rizal Commercial Banking Corp., scheme

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