MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) - The Court of Appeals (CA) has junked the syndicated estafa case against property developer Delfin Lee's co-accused, Christina Sagun.
Sagun, along with Lee and 3 others, were charged before a trial court for an allegedly questionable P6 billion loan given to the buyers of Lee's Globe Asiatique (GA) firm by the Home Development Mutual Fund (HDMF/Pag-ibig).
In a 34-page decision by the Special Tenth Division, dated Oct. 5, the appellate court ruled that the Department of Justice (DOJ) committed grave abuse of discretion in including Sagun, GA documentation chief, in the information filed before a Pampanga trial court.
"[T]he evidence against petitioner is utterly insufficient to prove her knowledge and/or participation in the alleged fraudulent acts of Globe Asiatique and its officers. The DOJ thus erred in finding probable cause to indict her of the crime of syndicated estafa or even simple estafa.
"We rule that public respondent DOJ committed grave abuse of discretion in including the petitioner in the information for syndicated estafa," the decision read
Lee, Sagun, Christina Salagan (former GA Documentation Dept. head), Atty. Alex Alvarez (Pag-ibig), and Lee's son, Dexter were charged for syndicated estafa.
Syndicated estafa exists when a group of at least 5 persons participated in the commission of estafa.
With the dismissal of charges against Sagun ordered by the CA, the accused will now be down to four, thereby raising the possibility that the charge against Lee and company will be downgraded to simple estafa, a bailable offense.
In its ruling, the appellate clarified that it did not go to the extent of discussing its decision's impact on the pending case against the 4 other accused since only Sagun's petition was passed upon.