4 SSS execs relieved amid profiteering allegation
The leadership of the Social Security System on Wednesday reassigned four key officials involved in managing the pension fund’s P500-billion portfolio amid allegations that they had improperly benefited from their positions by trading personal stock market accounts.
In a text message to the Inquirer, SSS chair Amado Valdez said executive vice president for investments Rizaldy Capulong, equities investment division chief Reginald Candelaria, equities product development head Ernesto Francisco Jr. and chief actuary George Ongkeko Jr. were temporarily relieved of their duties pending the results of an ongoing investigation surrounding their investments in shares of stock.
“They were assigned to the office of the president on floating status,” Valdez said.
Earlier this week, SSS commissioner Jose Gabriel La Viña accused the officials of “serious dishonesty and grave misconduct”, having filed an official complaint with the pension fund’s board a week prior.
In particular, La Viña alleged that Candelaria and Francisco vetted each other’s personal stock trades with each other, which was then approved by Capulong, as required by the institution’s rules, but noted that all three officials were in a conflict of interest situation because they transacted with stockbrokers which they had also cleared to trade on behalf of SSS.
Ongkeko, meanwhile, was remiss in his role of providing a complete set of records of the trades of the investment officers, La Viña said.
Valdez said that the pension fund’s large investment portfolio will temporarily be handled by the organization’s head of internal audit, who was also ordered to “seal records” to aid in the ongoing probe.
The Inquirer had earlier sought the side of the accused SSS officials, but received no reply, except for Francisco who declined to comment citing sub judice rules, since the complaint was already pending before the Social Security Commission – the fund’s highest policy making body. The head of SSS’ union, for his part, asked that the probe be conducted more circumspectly to spare the officials from “trial by publicity”.
Meanwhile, the SSS on Wednesday assured its members that “it has institutionalized procedures to address administrative complaints.”
“Such mechanisms ensure all parties are given due process,” it said in a press statement, adding that the probe into the activities of the officials will not affect the pensions and benefits of its 35 million members from the private sector.
“SSS guarantees its members that the Investment Reserve Fund, which came from members’ contributions and investment income, is intact and well-protected,” it said.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.