San Miguel wants ex-Skyway partner jailed for qualified theft
MANILA — The infrastructure unit of the San Miguel Corporation wants a former business partner jailed for allegedly defrauding the conglomerate of P50 million as well as misrepresenting himself as the owner of a corporate acquisition target.
At the same time, the country’s largest conglomerate asked the Marikina City judge to recuse herself from hearing the case against the former partner, Indonesia businessman Shadik Wahono, noting her previous ruling against San Miguel in another legal dispute.
The infrastructure firm, San Miguel Holdings Corporation (SMHC), is asking the court to issue a non-bailable arrest warrant against Wahono and company for qualified theft.
He allegedly caused Citra Metro Manila Tollways Corp. (CMMTC) — which was jointly owned then by the SMHC and Wahono — to make an unauthorized disbursement which he then used to incorporate another company called Citra Central Expressway Corporation (CCEC).
SMHC’s complaint said that the transfer of money was listed as a loan from CMMTC to Wahono’s PT Citra Lamtoro Gung Persad (CLGP), for the incorporation of CCEC.
Wahono subsequently entered into a separate partnership with SMHC for CCEC, to undertake the Skyway Stage 3 project. However, SMHC said it did not know that Wahono got the money from the jointly owned CMMTC to fund the establishment of CCEC.
According to SMHC, Wahono and his co-accused did not notify the CMMTC board and shareholders about the loan which, consequently, did not have board approval. The company pointed out that CMMTC was, in fact, expressly barred by its contractual obligations from extending any form of loan.
SMHC said that, because Wahono and company kept the unauthorized disbursement secret, it was duped into paying the Indonesian businessman and his partners the same amount of money that it illegally disbursed from CMMTC when SMHC subsequently bought into CCEC.
SMHC filed a separate criminal complaint for syndicated estafa against Wahono and company for misrepresenting his company, PT Citra Lamtoro Gung Persada (CLGP), as the legal owner of CCEC shares acquired by SMHC.
“CLGP cannot be the legal and beneficial owner of such shares since the subscription price was actually paid for by CMMTC funds of which SMHC was also a beneficial owner at that time,” SMHC alleges in its complaint.
Meanwhile, despite earlier findings by the Office of the City Prosecutor of Manila of probable cause to issue an arrest warrant against Wahono, Judge Alice C. Gutierrez of Marikina Regional Trial Court Branch 193, dismissed the prosecutor’s resolution that included information for qualified theft against all of the accused.
Gutierrez said SMHC “cannot claim the [P50 million] belongs to it considering that there are other stockholders of the corporation and that the court finds no probable cause for the issuance of warrant of arrest for qualified theft on the ground that they merely performed corporate acts when they transferred the amount from CMMTC to CCEC.”
SMHC countered that “to excuse the theft committed by the accused just because they, too, are beneficial owners is to say that one partner can rob the other or the majority can steal from the minority,” adding that Gutierrez’s ground for dismissal showed bias and ignorance of the law.
SMHC filed a motion for reconsideration to set aside the judge’s order and issue a warrant of arrest against Wahono and company, based on the information submitted by the public prosecutor finding probable cause to indict the accused.
The SMHC has also filed a motion for Gutierrez to recuse herself from hearing the case, and suspend proceedings, including any action on the appeal, until she decides on whether to recuse herself from the case or not.
In its motion, SMHC said Judge Gutierrez’s actions have showen her bias against San Miguel, demonstrating prejudgment and partiality in favor of the accused, when she outrightly dismissed key information and evidence and ruled that there was no “prima facie” evidence of qualified theft. SFM
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