Defense: CJ only withdrew $2.5-M in December

By Ira Pedrasa,

Posted at May 28 2012 02:00 PM | Updated as of May 29 2012 01:27 AM

MANILA, Philippines - The defense lambasted the prosecution for issuing another bloated list of Chief Justice Renato Corona’s withdrawals last December 2011, saying “they obviously did not see or do not know their evidence.”

In a story which came out in the Philippine Star on Sunday, the prosecution said Corona withdrew at least $3.25 million from his deposits from December 12 to December 22. The prosecution, which supposedly tapped a team of accountants, said this was contrary to Corona’s testimony that he only has $2.4 million in his banks accumulated over the years.

Defense lawyer Ramon Esguerra told that the breakdown of the $2.5 million withdrawals are as follows:

$687,000 from the Bank of the Philippine Islands (BPI);
$975,000 from Allied Bank;
$135,000 from Philippine Savings Bank (PSBank)
$769,000 from PSBank.

What the prosecution did was to include the deposits and withdrawals from other smaller accounts to the main accounts in BPI and Allied Bank, Esguerra explained.

Corona last Friday said he only has four foreign currency-denominated accounts.

He said the movement of funds is determined by the fund manager, which chooses a money market window to invest in. Subsequently, smaller accounts open and close depending on the transactions made.

“They obviously did not see or do not know their evidence. The propensity for error in basic arithmetic is again obvious,” Esguerra1 said.

The prosecution's $3.25 million computation is as follows:

$135,359 on Dec. 12 from PSBank-Katipunan;
$418,193 on Dec. 12 from the BPI-San Francisco del Monte;
$401,658 on Dec. 13 from Allied Bank-Kamias;
$769,681 on Dec. 15 from PSBank-Katipunan;
$487,998 on Dec. 19 from Allied Bank-Kamias;
$687,433 on Dec. 19 from BPI Investment Management Inc.; and,
$350,000 on Dec. 22 from PSBank.

A closer look at how the prosecution arrived at the withdrawals from Allied Bank, for example, show two different methodologies.

Overanalyzing AMLC document?

Corona on Friday admitted withdrawing big amounts on the day he was impeached. “Marami po akong naiwang kaibigan at kumpare sa Malacañang [at sinabing] ifi-freeze daw ang assets. Siguro, kung kayo rin, pangangalagaan nyo ang perang pinag-ipunan at ang perang hindi sa inyo,” he said.

He said he only has US$2.4 million, including interest earnings since the early 1970s, plus P80 million in commingled funds.

“I never, at any time, had 10, 11 or 12 million [US] dollars,” Corona said, denying a claim by Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales that he had "transactional balances" of $10 million-$12 million in his dollar accounts.

Carpio-Morales based her computations on the same document used by the prosecution, which is from the Anti-Money Laundering Council.

Accountants interviewed said people should refrain from over-analyzing the document since it is incomplete, and thus “inconclusive.”

Banking law expert Reynaldo Geronimo also told, “that report is just the electronic compilation of the electronic reports that the banks had to send to the AMLC everytime there was a transaction ("covered transaction") that is done by a client with his account. Everything automatic, THE data is untouched by human hands. You will notice what the CJ disputed was not the movement of the funds but the attempt to interpret the report as a picture of his bank balances as of year end.”

He said there should have been a more “astute” examination of the document before it was presented.