Contempt raps eyed versus Legacy owner

LEGACY Group of Companies founder Celso de los Angeles is facing contempt proceedings that may possibly end up with his being ordered arrested and detained by Senate probers, having failed to accomplish his commitment in submitting his waiver on the lifting of secrecy privileges on his bank accounts and sworn statements of assets and liabilities (SAL).

As for De los Angeles’ fate, Roxas said his filing of contempt charges is already underway as he had already directed his committee to study this matter noting the repeated failure of the businessman and Sto. Domingo, Albay mayor in submitting before his panel a written waiver of the confidentiality of his private bank accounts and his SAL, as previously agreed upon.

“De los Angeles in previous hearings under oath committed to submit his statement of asset and liabilities as well as a written waiver of his right to his bank account secrecy. We have followed up with his counsel several times but until now, there is no submission,” the senator said in a briefing after the hearing.

The senator said records will bear him out that De los Angeles committed to submit an official copy of his SAL as a public official during the committee hearing last February 20.

At a subsequent hearing on March 9, senators asked De los Angeles to waive all his rights under the Bank Secrecy Act and to allow senators to review his accounts with the Philippine Rural Bank and the Philippine Countryside Bank as well as his closed account at Metrobank-Bicol.

In continuing the probe on Monday, Roxas formally moved that the committee cite De los Angeles in contempt of the Senate “for his non-appearance today and for the non-performance of his under oath representations.”

This was seconded by Sen. Francis “Chiz” Escudero, chairman of the Senate banks committee, that is jointly conducting the probe.

Also during the hearing, Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile chastised the Department of Justice (DoJ), noting the apparent slow action in handling the matter.

Enrile noted that until now, the DoJ has yet file in court any criminal cases, even the recommended filing of syndicated estafa, against De los Angeles and his cohorts in the Legacy fund scam.

“Until the cases are filed by the Justice department, De los Angeles will be free to hide away his assets,” said Roxas.

Legacy’s former chief finance officer Namnama Pasete-Santos had testified during that hearing that P38 million in Legacy funds were given to De los Angeles supposedly to bankroll his mayoralty bid in Sto. Domingo, Albay during the 2007 general elections; P30 million in 2006; and a total of P22 million in 2008. Former Legacy chief executive officer and chairman Carolina Hiñola, on the other hand, said P25 million was paid to De los Angeles by Legacy for the purchase of the Punta Engano property in Lapu-Lapu City in Cebu.

At the same time, Roxas told reporters he would be meeting with Armed Forces Chief of Staff Gen. Alexander Yano to discuss how 12,000 soldiers and policemen who invested in Legacy pre-need plans through the AFP Savings and Loans Association Inc. could recover their investments in the bankrupt company.

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