Ongpin fined P174M for insider trading
THE SECURITIES and Exchange Commission (SEC) has slapped businessman Roberto V. Ongpin with a P174-million fine for allegedly using insider information to profit from the trading of Philex Mining shares in 2009, when the First Pacific group was trying to gain a controlling stake in the mining firm.
This is the first and only case of insider trading so far resolved by the SEC en banc under the framework of the Securities Regulation Code, according to SEC’s office of general counsel.
Ongpin, however, vehemently denied the charges and filed a petition at the Court of Appeals seeking a temporary restraining order and reversal of the SEC’s sanction.
Apart from the fine, Ongpin was also disqualified from being an officer, member of the board of directors—or any person performing similar functions—of any issuer corporation. He was also asked to relinquish any such position held at present.
In an SEC en banc ruling dated July 8, Ongpin was ordered to pay a fine 10 times larger than an original P17.4-million fine recommended in 2015 by the SEC’s enforcement and investor protection department, which found him liable for 174 counts of insider trading in violation of the Securities Regulation Code.
The SEC noted Ongpin’s purchase of more shares of Philex ahead of a Dec. 1, 2009, private agreement he had entered into with businessman Manuel V. Pangilinan, the chief executive of First Pacific.
“In this case, appellant was able to consolidate the required number of shares, supplementing his block of shares with the shares brought from the open market, sold them to the subsidiary of First Pacific at the privately agreed price of P21 per share, thereafter giving the First Pacific group control over Philex,” the SEC said.
At the time of the transactions, Ongpin was a director and vice chair of Philex Mining.
Ongpin first acquired Philex shares in 2007 from Banco de Oro amounting to 5 percent. He then acquired shares held by John Gokongwei and Manuel Zamora, giving him enough shares to join the board in 2007.