Soured business deal not of our making, firm insists
MANILA, Philippines—A complainant in a case against Omico Corp. says the corporation is “twisting the facts” in its reply to accusations its executives and directors had diverted P250 million in funds originally meant for the construction of a 28-story building in Makati City.
In a press statement, Guevent Investments Development Corp. (GIDC) chairman Domingo Guevara Jr. branded as “full of lies and inconsistencies” recent statements made by Omico in reply to a syndicated estafa complaint filed against several of its executives by Guevara companies GIDC and Honeycomb Builders Inc. (HBI).
Guevara pointed out the complaint did not single out Omico board chairman Antonio Lopa, brother of the late Ricardo Lopa, whose wife was a sister of the late President Corazon Aquino, but that it had included other board members and individuals.
He noted that the principal respondent in the complaint was Kin Hing Tia, or Tommy Tia, former Omico president. He noted that Tia’s wife, respondent Mei Nga Tia, became Omico president when her husband recently assumed the position of co-vice chairman.
‘Malicious diversion of money’
“Unfortunately, Lopa’s name—which appeared in the list of respondents—most likely invited more attention in the Inquirer report on July 26 not only because he is board chairman but because of his late brother’s relationship by affinity to the late President Corazon Aquino,” Guevara said.
Guevara said the main issue in the criminal complaint was the “malicious diversion” of P250 million raised by Omico—through a public offering via an affiliated firm Omico Kapital Inc.—in the form of an interest-free loan to the prejudice of Omico stockholders.
“That amount was earmarked exclusively for the development of a mixed-use condominium to be erected on a 4,959-square-meter contiguous four parcels of real estate belonging to GIDC and HBI in Makati City as provided for in the joint venture agreement entered into by Omico with GIDC and HBI in 1995,” Guevara said.
Guevara said Omico did not implement the joint venture or account for the P250 million. He accused Omico of “misleading the investing public by injecting an entirely extraneous and totally outrageous claim that GIDC and HBI had sought assistance from the publicly listed firm in bailing out the two Guevara-controlled firms because of an imminent foreclosure by China Bank on the four parcels of land in Makati.”
China Bank records, Guevara said, would attest that there were no imminent foreclosure proceedings initiated by the bank at the time.
Blaming the 1997 crisis
“Instead of twisting the facts and circumstances, Omico should answer squarely the criminal complaint filed in the Mandaluyong City prosecutor’s office,” Guevara said.
Guevara said that “based on the 1995 joint venture agreement, the
condominium project was scheduled for completion over a three-year period ending in 1998 but Omico failed to prepare even an architectural plan and then blamed the Asian currency crisis in 1997 for the delay.”
“When the Asian currency situation stabilized in 1999, Omico still refused to proceed with the project despite repeated oral and written demands by GIDC and HBI,” Guevara claimed.
Guevara also disputed Omico’s claim the joint venture agreement had expired by operation of law since it had not been implemented within 10 years of its signing.
“The law only applies when parties to an agreement are obviously no longer interested in its implementation. GIDC and HBI have always shown interest in the implementation of the joint venture agreement with Omico as evidenced by numerous demand letters urging Omico to proceed as agreed upon,” Guevara said.