MANILA - Businessman Roberto Ongpin pleaded not guilty during a conditional arraignment on Wednesday in connection with graft charges the Ombudsman filed against him and several former officials of the Developmant Bank of the Philippines (DBP) for an allegedly irregular loan transaction worth P660 million.
The conditional arraignment was set by the Sandiganbayan as a requirement for his motion to travel abroad. Ongpin also posted an P80,000 bail.
In a resolution signed September 25, Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales said there is probable cause to file charges against Ongpin and other officers of Delta Ventures Resources Inc., including President Josephine Manalo and Goldenmedia Corp. Treasurer Ma. Lourdes Torres and former officers of DBP, including chairman Patricia Sto. Tomas and President Reynaldo David.
The issue started when Ongpin’s Delta Ventures Resources Inc. (DVRI) took out two loans totaling P660 million from DBP in 2009. Ongpin later bought 50 million shares of Philex Mining Co. from DBP for P637.5 million or P12.75 per share. Less than a month later, he sold them for P21 a share to Philex Chairman Manuel Pangilinan.
The current DBP board claims the bank could have made P42.4 million more if it had sold the stake directly instead of selling it to Ongpin.
Prosecutors objected to Ongpin’s motion to travel considering the huge amount involved in the case.
In his travel request dated February 6, the former Marcos administration Trade Minister said he was supposed to attend several business conferences from February 10 to March 2, 2013. His initial itinerary was Perugia (Italy), Paris, London, Barcelona, Perugia again, Hong Kong and Manila.
Despite the posting of the bail, Ongpin has yet to submit a more detailed travel itinerary, which should include his addresses abroad.