MANILA, Philippines - Businessman Roberto V. Ongpin has asked the Court of Appeals (CA) to restrain a Pasig City trial court from hearing a complaint lodged against him for the return of P412 million to Philex Mining Corp.
In his petition for certiorari filed on Monday, Ongpin alleged that Pasig RTC Branch 158 Judge Maria Rowena Modesto-San Pedro committed grave abuse of discretion when she dismissed his petition on the ground of insufficient payment of filing fee.
In a ruling dated April 3, the Pasay RTC said the appropriate filing fee should be paid by litigants, in this case, even minority shareholders. Ongpin urged the CA to nullify the ruling.
The derivative suit was filed by minority stockholder Atty. Mario Ongkiko, through his daughter and attorney-in-fact Atty. Zenaida Ongkiko-Acorda, when Philex’s management refused to sue Ongpin to recover his "short swing profits."
The complainants alleged that under the Securities Regulation Code, an incumbent company insider like a director or officer is barred from profiting from trading in the same shares within a period of six months.
The short-swing profits of P412.5 million stemmed from Ongpin’s purchase of 50 million Philex shares from the Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP) at P12.75 per share on November 5, 2009, and selling the same shares to Philex Mining Chairman Manuel V. Pangilinan's Two Rivers Pacific Holdings Corporation on December 7, 2009 at P21.00 per share.
The complaint also asked the court to direct Ongpin and his firms – Deltaventure Resources, Inc. and Golden Media Corporation – to return to Philex other short-swing profits, if any.
Earlier, lawyer Rodolfo Ma. Ponferrada, general counsel to Ongpin's group of companies, said the case filed by Ongkiko-Acorda lacks merit and is "nothing more than a nuisance and harassment suit."
In a statement, Ponferrada said there has been no demand from either herself or Philex for the return of the supposed "short swing profits"; and no inside information was "unfairly used" in these transactions.