Bank officials face charges for coordinated fraud

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Sunday, June 20, 2010

THE Court of Appeals (CA) ordered the prosecution of six rural bank executives for allegedly making false representations in order to obtain loans from the state-run Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP).

In a decision penned by Associate Justice Ruben Ayson, the CA's Eighth Division affirmed the January 4, 2005 resolution of then Justice secretary Raul Gonzalez finding probable cause against the officers of the defunct Hermosa Savings and Loans Bank Inc. (HSLBI).

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Named respondents in the criminal complaint were Benjamin Cruz, the bank's president and general manager; Rodolfo Buenaventura; Librada Dio; Nilda Fajardo; Lelaine Fernandez; and Ligaya Cruz.

The assailed Department of Justice (DOJ) resolution upheld the prosecutors' recommendation to indict the bank execs for 40 counts of large-scale estafa in connection with the 40 dubious loans they secured from the DBP in various occasions from 1994 to 2000.

Based on records, HSLBI availed of loans from February 2, 1994 to November 29, 2000, which reached an aggregate amount of P389,809,867.

On March 31, 2001, a regular examination of HSLBI's loan portfolio was conducted by the Department of Thrift Bank and Non-Bank Financial Institutions of the Bangko Sentral (BSP-DTBNBFI).

It discovered suspicious tampering and alterations on the various loan documents submitted by the bank.

DBP conducted its own investigation to validate the findings of the BSP-DTBNBFI, and found that 40 of the 50 credit accounts were attended by fraudulent acts.

This prompted DBP, through its senior vice president and head of the Wholesale Banking Department, Valentina Ricasio, to file a criminal complaint against the HSLBI officers for estafa on December 19, 2001.

The bank executives denied the charges as they insisted that they were not too part to the loan transaction or in the preparation of the documents.

They added that they were not aware of the documents and never approved or verified them and that their signatures appearing on the documents were forged and they did not benefit from the loans.

On November 18, 2002, DOJ state prosecutors Maria Regina Tordilla-Castillo and Melvin Abad issued a joint resolution, which found probable cause to indict the petitioners for 40 counts of estafa.

HSLBI was ordered close by the Monetary Board on February 3, 2005, while a similar case for estafa was likewise filed by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas against the respondent HSLBI officers. (JCV/Sunnex)

Bank officials face charges coordinated fraud

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