Third estafa case against Legacy execs filed

NEAR SEA TRAGEDY. Cargo vessel M/V SKO carrying 400 metric tons of corn almost capsized yesterday near the Macabalan port in Cagayan de Oro when another vessel, M/V Cordoba Carrier (foreground), rammed it accidentally. Tugboats were forced to tow the ship to deeper water so that it will not capsize. Gold Star Daily photo by Gerry L. Gorit
NEAR SEA TRAGEDY. Cargo vessel M/V SKO carrying 400 metric tons of corn almost capsized yesterday near the Macabalan port in Cagayan de Oro when another vessel, M/V Cordoba Carrier (foreground), rammed it accidentally. Tugboats were forced to tow the ship to deeper water so that it will not capsize. Gold Star Daily photo by Gerry L. Gorit

By JOAN S. VILLANUEVA, of the Philippine News Agency

BANGKO Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) filed its third syndicated estafa case against Celso Angeles, founder and owner of pre-need firm Legacy, and at least 16 other company executives.

In a statement, the BSP said the latest case was filed after the Legacy officials allegedly siphoned off P500 million worth of deposits and investments from Rural Bank of Bais Inc. in Negros Oriental.

The other respondents include Alexis Petralba; Namnama Pasetes; Carolina Hinola; Roy Hilario; Virgilio Odejar; Arnel Sulquiano; Ronaldo Alix; Mike Basangan; Rommel San Pedro; Francisco Uy Lim; Josephine Guevarra; Levy Trijo; Sofia Aleli; lawyers Cristine Antenor Cruz-Limpin; Norman Tiongson; Victoria Noel; and several others.

The BSP said documents and sworn testimonies of persons and bank officials, who know about the alleged criminal transactions, showed the respondents’ participation in the illegal transactions.

“It is clear that respondents, in conspiracy with one another, acted as a web of swindling syndicate that launched, orchestrated, unleashed and perpetrated a systematic and grand series of misappropriations, conversions, and siphoning of funds derived from the general public,” it said.

The acts, it said, constituted syndicated estafa as defined under
Article 315 of the Revised Penal Code in relation to Presidential Decree No. 1689.

BSP records show that as of September 30, 2008, the Rural Bank of Bais’ total deposit liabilities stood at P784 million but its capital account “was already in the negative” while its cash resources amounted to P134.6 million.

On December 8 last year, the financial institution declared bank holiday “declaring in effect its inability and incapacity to fulfill its obligations.”

The BSP filed two separate syndicated estafa cases against the Legacy officials on February 26 and March 6 for illegal activities in the company’s banks in General Santos City and Cebu City and that of the First Interstate Bank (Rural Bank of Kananga, Leyte).

The BSP said records show that as of September 30, 2008, RB of DARBCI in General Santos had P830 million in deposits but its cash position was less than the said amount.

The second case involves at least P487 million of funds in trust from depositors and investors in RB of Kananga.

On January 5, the central bank filed 49 counts of falsification of public and commercial documents cases and a case of false reporting and false statement against 16 company officers and employees.

Another 116 counts of falsification of public and commercial documents and two counts of false statements followed against 18 officers, employees, and agents of four Legacy Group-banks.

Earlier, BSP Governor Amando Tetangco Jr. said the central bank was readying charges against central bank employees and officials found involved in the Legacy Group controversy.

The Monetary Board, BSP’s policy-making body, closed 13 Legacy banks in a span of two months since December following declaration of bank holidays.

The closed banks, which are now under the receivership of the Philippine Deposit Insurance Corp. (PDIC), included the Rural Bank of Paranaque, Pilipino Rural Bank, Rural Bank of Bais in Negros Oriental, Rural Bank of San Jose in Batangas, Bank of East Asia, First Interstate Bank, Philippine Countryside Rural Bank, Dynamic Rural Bank, Nation Bank, Rural Bank of Carmen in Cebu, Rural Bank of DARBCI, and San Pablo City Development Bank.

Monetary officials said the board had been investigating questionable transactions of Legacy since 2005.

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