BSP sleuthing leads to jail time, fine for rural banker who faked P7M in loans
A former official of a shuttered rural bank in Pangasinan is bound to spend at least seven years in jail for banking law violations thanks to charges brought against her by the country’s monetary regulator.
In a statement, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas said that the Regional Trial Court of Las Piñas City found an officer of the People’s Rural Bank of Binmaley (Pangasinan) Inc. (PRBBI) guilty of four counts of violations of the General Banking Law of 2000. The bank is now closed.
The RTC’s Branch 255 sentenced Juanita Altarez, a former PRBBI area head and manager, to seven years in prison and fined her P100,000 for each count.
The court ruling followed the recent decision of the Metropolitan Trial Court of Manila to convict the former chairman and president of Romblon-based Rural Bank of Cajidiocan in a separate case filed by the BSP.
The case stemmed from a general examination of the bank in October 2007, where BSP noted several major findings, including the grant of 142 fictitious loans amounting to 7 million by PRBBI’s Las Piñas City Branch that were facilitated by Altarez. PRBBI then had eight branches located in Pangasinan, Baguio City, Bulacan and Metro Manila.
After the closure of PRBBI in April 2008, the BSP’s investigation further revealed that each of the 142 borrowers – several of whom were co-makers of each other – obtained a uniform loan amount of P50,000. The borrowers could not be located, except for four who denied obtaining the loans and were presented as witnesses.
In the decision, it was stated that “Altarez’s position in the bank made it convenient for her to facilitate the fabrication of loan documents as hers is the only approval needed,” and that “as a superior officer, she is in the position to influence and direct her subordinates to prepare and sign loan documents with information she has provided, and thereafter have the cashier’s check or proceeds released in her favor.”
The court also found her defense – that she approved the loans without verifying the information indicated in the loan documents because she trusted her staffers who had been employed in PRBBI longer than her – unacceptable for someone who had been in the banking industry for almost 30 years.
Additional charges against Altarez for falsification of documents are still pending at the Metropolitan Trial Court of Las Piñas City, Branch 123.
The BSP said it “continues to promote good governance among its supervised institutions to ensure the soundness of the banking system and to protect the interest of the banking public.”/TSB