BIZ BUZZ: PNB whistleblowers’ reward: suspension | Inquirer Business

BIZ BUZZ: PNB whistleblowers’ reward: suspension

/ 07:31 PM April 12, 2023

How should a company reward employees who blow the whistle on anomalous deals that could have cost the firm’s owners tens of millions of pesos more — over a hundred million pesos, actually — and help stop the transaction.

Most companies would give such an employee a commendation or even a promotion.

But apparently not at Philippine National Bank, where a group of employees who red-flagged a transaction covering the cost of repairs for taipan Lucio Tan’s private plane, were instead suspended.


Biz Buzz was furnished a copy of the complaint letter written by a concerned employee addressed to a PNB director pleading for an explanation why she and her colleagues were suspended after blowing the whistle on a reimbursement request by a person closely linked to the most powerful faction of the Tan family.


The gory details of this transaction were first brought to light by Jarius Bondoc on his column in the Philippine Star this morning.

“To be candid, the request for reimbursement is highly irregular and obviously overpriced,” the employee said.

The employee was referring to the engine repairs conducted on a King Air turboprop plane which was initially quoted by an external service provider at $230,000 for two engines. But when the final billing came out, lo and behold, it had risen to $2.9 million.

What’s worse is that the cost of two brand new engines, according to Pratt & Whitney Canada, the engine manufacturer, would have only reached $1.7 million for two units.

Why PNB? Biz Buzz was informed that the aircraft is lodged under the bank’s name. In ay case, PNB asked Philippine Airlines to investigate the matter, and PAL officials came up with the same conclusion: that the deal was overpriced by over 11 times. Wow.

But thanks to the whistleblowers who spotted it — upon the orders of higher management to investigate, of course — the deal will unlikely push through. Unfortunately, their reward is a suspension because, according to their letter, the person who organized the transaction is close to the first family. Whoopsie.


We knew that trouble was brewing at Philippine National Bank, but we didn’t realize it was this bad. Biz Buzz will update this column as soon as we receive word from PNB on this matter. Abangan!

— Daxim L. Lucas
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TAGS: Biz Buzz, PAL, PNB, whistleblower

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