Legacy owner charged for fictitious loans in Laguna bank

By Ina Reformina, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 05 2011 06:12 PM | Updated as of Jan 08 2011 03:04 AM

MANILA, Philippines - Celso delos Angeles, founder of the collapsed Legacy Group of Companies, faces another potential legal battle after he was charged with "creation of fictitious loans" before the Department of Justice (DOJ) on Wednesday.

The Philippine Deposit Insurance Corporation (PDIC) -- the statutory receiver of about a dozen Legacy rural banks shut down in 2008 -- filed the new criminal case after it gathered evidence on almost P40 million-worth of fictitious loans.

The loans were allegedly made by borrowers, some of them also fictitious, with San Pablo City Development Bank (SPCDB), a Laguna-based rural bank under the Legacy Group.

This is the latest case among a string of civil and criminal cases filed by Legacy's depositors, investors, and regulators all over the country.

De los Angeles, a businessman-turned-politician, is currently detained at the Ormoc provincial jail over syndicated estafa charges involving funds deposited in a Legacy rural bank in Leyte.

Fictitious loans #1

The recent case involved the movement of some P37.6 million funds that SPCDB allegedly lent to business owners.

Their loans, including interest charges, were allegedly settled by another set of business owners days before SPCDB and other rural banks under the Legacy Group were ordered closed by central bank authorities last December 17, 2008.

Both transactions were allegedly made under the instructions of Delos Angeles.

The first transaction involved 8 borrowers who allegedly availed of Small and Medium Enterprises (SME) Loans aggregating to P37.6 million.

Tranches of these loans were availed in various dates from January 4, 2008 to October 8, 2008.

"Respondent Celso G. delos Angeles, Jr. instructed the creation of the fictitious SME Loans," noted the PDIC complaint.

The 8 purported borrowers were:

  1. Celina Lontoc
  2. Solomon Bariat and/or Susan Bariat
  3. Fritzie Lexdy Noche
  4. Manuel Tuazon
  5. Roberto Cetro and Elvira Cetro
  6. Vicente Miguel Casanova
  7. Alfredo Longakit
  8. Isberto Godoy

Affidavits obtained by the PDIC reveal none of the purported borrowers received the loan proceeds.

In fact, Solomon Bariat was discovered to be deceased.

Fictitious loans #2

On December 4, 2008, another set of fictitious loans totalling P38.17 million were availed by certain Glenn Godoy and Lenard Ponez.

According to the PDIC submissions, Godoy is an aircon mechanic while Ponez's existence has not been established. They allegedly received the second batch of fictitious loans on the same day that the first loan was "paid."

These loans were allegedly made "to erase the fictitious SME loans (amounting to P37.6 million) created from January 4, 2008 to October 8, 2008," the complaint said.

In their joint affidavit, PDIC investigators Manuel Tan and Ariston Aganon alleged that SPCDB released the fictitious Small and Medium Enterprises (SME) Loans "for the purpose of covering up the excess interest payments of the said bank pursuant to the instructions of Respondent Celso G. delos Angeles, Jr."

The affidavit further stated that the official receipts were issued "to make it appear that the 8 fictitious SME Loan borrowers paid their respective outstanding balances, when in truth, no such payments were received by the said bank."

In its complaint dated December 21, 2010, the PDIC also charged one Reynaldo Mainit "who supplied the names and purported collaterals" of the fictitious loan accounts in SPCDB.

Following the filing of the complaint, the PDIC asked the justice department to immediately conduct a preliminary investigation into the charges.

Receiver

Various companies under the Legacy Group were engaged in rural banking, pre-need, and other investment-related activities in various parts of the country.

De los Angeles, who is accused of violating Republic Act No. 3591 (PDIC Charter), faces several estafa suits. He and other Legacy officials have been blamed for Legacy Group's "financing scam."

The PDIC said the Legacy rural banks "lured the general public in placing deposits" offering interest rates as high as 20% every year.

The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas and the PDIC have traced a pattern of fraudulent transactions such as the "siphoning" of funds from active deposits that the bank then used for other purposes.

The PDIC has paid Legacy rural bank clients up to P11 billion in deposit insurance as of October 2010.

Several deposit insurance claims have been turned down by the PDIC because of fraudulent transactions or non-existent accounts.

The PDIC has tapped a forensic accounting team from the Punongbayan & Araullo accounting firm to probe these transactions and gather evidence for the filing of cases.

The PDIC took over SPCDB on December 17, 2008 and started the inventory of the rural bank's assets and records on January 5, 2009.

As court-appointed receiver of the Legacy rural banks, PDIC is tasked to "take custody, manage, and preserve money or property that is subject to litigation so that when the final judgment is rendered, the property remains available to accomplish what has been ordered." -- with reports from Lala Rimando, abs-cbnNEWS.com