Ongpin: So, who is persecuting whom?

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I refer to the statement of BSP Deputy Governor Nestor Espenilla’s lawyer that his client is being “persecuted” by me, because he has been singled out of the 3-man Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC).  I find this statement “amusing.”  I understand very well that the AMLC is a collegial body, but of the three officials in it, only Espenilla, during the Senate hearings of last year, stated under oath that the DBP loans to me were “prudent,” “positive” and made a lot of money for the Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP).  That is obviously why I singled him out.

I find the word “persecution” not only amusing, but ironic and laughable. Who is persecuting whom?

Consider the following:

1. In November 2010, in several transactions with the DBP, the bank profited by some P1.4 billion. That fact is indisputable.

2. Shortly after the new DBP management took over, they promptly singled out the loans to me, which made huge profits for DBP, as being “behest,” while ignoring other much larger loans where, instead of making a pile of money, DBP had to write off billions in uncollectible loans.

3. At their request, the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee held hearings on the matter, where Espenilla stated that the loans were in order. However, he subsequently contradicted himself in November 2012 when, as AMLC chair, he signed an ex-parte decision before the Court of Appeals stating that, based on the “behest loans” granted to me by the DBP, my bank accounts should be frozen.

4. Incidentally, the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee hearings produced no negative conclusions about the DBP loans to me, and no report was ever issued by the Senate on the hearings.

5.  Notwithstanding the facts, the Ombudsman, in September 2012, filed a complaint against me, a private citizen over whom the Ombudsman has no jurisdiction, unless conspiracy with government officials is proven.  The Ombudsman nonetheless accused me of culpability based on clearly erroneous facts. The most glaring is that the loans granted to me, some of which were collateralized by PhilWeb shares, were claimed to be “under collateralized” because these PhilWeb shares were “unlisted.” How the Ombudsman could have arrived at such a conclusion (the entire investing public knows that PhilWeb is a listed stock and has been listed for the past 13 years) is totally beyond comprehension.

6. Despite my motion for reconsideration in which these fundamental errors were pointed out, the Ombudsman affirmed the review resolution on Jan. 8, 2013.

7.  Meanwhile,  not familiar with the facts, the Court of Appeals issued a freeze order on my bank accounts on Dec. 6, 2012 and on Dec. 26, extended the order for another six months.

8. In an open court hearing on Dec. 18, 2012, the representative of the solicitor general manifested before the Court of Appeals that they needed at least six months to examine my accounts at which point my lawyer, Alex Poblador, immediately pointed out to the court how it could be possible for the AMLC and the solicitor general to file a petition for a freeze order when they had admitted the obvious fact that they had no evidence of probable cause since they needed at least six months to study the case.  Despite this fatal admission, the Court of Appeals decided to extend the freeze order for another six months.

9.  As a result of the damning effect of the freeze order on my bank accounts, I lost several billions of value in my listed company shares.

Now, who is persecuting whom?

—ROBERTO V. ONGPIN

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