SC reinstates cases vs Subic theme park owner

By Edu Punay, The Philippine Star

Posted at Jul 21 2013 11:59 AM | Updated as of Jul 21 2013 07:59 PM

MANILA, Philippines -- The Supreme Court (SC) has reinstated the criminal cases filed against the owner of the Ocean Adventure Marine Park in Subic Bay Freeport Zone for allegedly defrauding his business partner with over $2 million worth of investments.

In a ruling promulgated last June 26 but released only earlier this week, the high court reversed the decisions of the Court of Appeals (CA) and Olongapo City trial court dismissing the two counts of estafa cases filed against Timothy Desmond, chairman and chief executive officer of Subic Bay Marine Exploratorium Inc. (SBMEI).

“The trial court is directed to proceed with the arraignment of the accused and the trial of the case with dispatch,” read the SC order.

In one of the cases, complainant Virginia Dio accused Desmond of defrauding her company, H.S. Equities Limited, when he allegedly claimed that he had the expertise, qualifications, resources, influence, credit and business transaction with the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) and other financing institutions to ensure the viability of the Ocean Adventure project.

Dio claimed Desmond allegedly submitted spurious documents to convince her to invest $1.15 million into the theme park. Desmond reportedly misappropriated the amount for his personal use and benefit.

In the second complaint, Dio claimed Desmond defrauded her other company, Westdale Assets, Ltd., in the amount of $1 million, which she entrusted to him for the construction of a beach resort and a school that would provide free education for poor students of Subic.

Dio’s lawyer Enrique dela Cruz expressed belief that the RTC would now proceed with the cases and issue warrant of arrest against Desmond as a result of the SC ruling.

“With the recent decision of the Supreme Court, the RTC will most likely issue a warrant for the arrest of Desmond. The embezzled amount is $2 million which is non bailable,” Dela Cruz said.