Ongpin faces lawsuit from business partner

By Zinnia B. Dela Peña, The Philippine Star

Posted at Feb 26 2014 07:41 AM | Updated as of Feb 26 2014 03:41 PM

MANILA, Philippines - Former trade industry minister Roberto V. Ongpin’s woes are far from over as he may face another lawsuit this time from construction firm D.M. Wenceslao, his partner in a P2-billion marina club project within the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp.’s casino and tourism complex in Parañaque.

The rift between Ongpin and the Wenceslao group erupted after the former mortgaged 10 hectares of his property, which form part of the marina project located between SM Mall of Asia and Solaire Casino, without the latter’s knowledge.

Ongpin has had funding difficulties since last year as banks refused to lend money to Alphaland Corp. following the divestment by UK-based investment firm Ashmore Group from the listed property firm.

The Wenceslao group owns majority of the joint venture, Alphaland Bay City Corp., with a contribution of 22 hectares out of the 32-hectare block for a 67-percent stake.

According to the Wenceslao group, a major local bank was almost ready to release P3 billion in loans to Alphaland but upon knowing that the property being mortgaged is part of the joint venture, it required the Wenceslao camp to sign the loan documents.

The Wenceslaos, however, refused to sign the loan document since the proceeds will only benefit Ongpin and his companies.

Upon Wenceslao’s refusal to sign the loan documents, the Ongpin group cancelled its joint venture agreement with the construction firm.

Ongpin’s lawyer, through Rodolfo Ma. Ponferrada, said the mortgage by Alphaland of its 10 hectares in the Bay City does not constitute “a breach of the joint venture as in fact it was expressly allowed by the joint venture agreement until the Wenceslao group is able to secure the relevant BIR tax free ruling.”

“On the contrary, it is the Wenceslao Group which is in breach of the Joint venture agreement for not being able to deliver the remaining four hectares to complete the 32-hectare development. Alphaland therefore has filed a suit for the Wenceslao group to deliver these four hectares,” Ponferrada said.

Ponferrada likewise argued that the Marina Club project is a 50-50 joint venture between the group of Ongpin and the Wenceslaos.

“But instead of being a 50 percent owner, the Wenceslao group has been acting (albeit illegally and without authority) as the full owners of Alphaland Bay City Corp. by among others, questioning the Marina Club project in various government agencies,” Ponferrada said.

Ponferra said the Wenceslao group is now subject of contempt proceedings before the Regional Trial Court of Makati City.