MVP to be summoned in behest loans probe

By RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jun 01 2012 04:25 PM | Updated as of Jun 02 2012 06:52 AM

MANILA, Philippines - The Senate Committees on Banks and Public Accountability will summon businessman Manuel V. Pangilinan to its investigation of the alleged behest loans obtained by businessman Roberto Ongpin from the Development Bank of the Philippines during the Arroyo administration.

This after the committees found out in Friday’s hearing that the Philex Board, under Pangilinan, decided not to pursue charges against Ongpin for short-swing profits over the sale of Philex mining shares.

The committees are investigating alleged behest loans given by DBP to Philex Mining and 4 other Ongpin companies. Ongpin is said to be a close associate of former First Gentleman Jose Miguel Arroyo.

Banks Committee chairman Senator Serge Osmeña said, "I'd like to see Mr. Pangilinan explain why he didn’t pursue that lawsuit considering he must take into consideration the minority shareholders. Kawawa naman sila. We put it in the law, hindi naman susundin. We see this kind of law wouldn’t work where you allow someone to sue himself or his partner. Kalokohan yan. We will let SEC sue and let the penalties go to the government."

Blue Ribbon Committee Chair Senator TG Guingona said, "if that’s the case, we should amend the law and let SEC be the one to file."

However, Osmeña clarified that he is not saying Pangilinan benefitted personally from the transactions.

He did note that Pangilinan and Ongpin are business partners in several ventures.
"Normally you wouldn’t to sue your own partner," he said.

Osmeña noted that Ongpin earned some P412 million from "shortswing profits" from the sale of Philex Mining shares just a month after he acquired it. He said Ongpin may have earned as much as P2 billion.

Osmeña noted the discounted interest rate imposed on the loan which at just 2%, made very little profit for the DBP. Aside from this, the loan was also reportedly fast tracked, did not undergo credit investigation and did not have proper documentation.

"If this is not a behest loan, I don’t know what is," he said.

The Senate panels are looking at the circumstances of the loans. Osmeña noted there may have been possible price manipulation of company shares -- one reason, he says, that  investors have shied away from the local bourse.

Osmeña said the investigation may take 2 to 3 years because of the onset of the 2013 election campaign.