MANILA, Philippines – Does Chief Justice Renato Corona have 80 dollar accounts in 4 different banks?
A source told the Philippine Star that Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales is expected to tell the Senate impeachment court "about 80 dollar accounts with millions of dollars held in about four banks with over 400 transactions recorded between 2003 and 2011.”
This is apart from Corona’s dollar deposits in Philippine Savings Bank (PSBank), which is the subject of a Supreme Court stay order.
The Ombudsman is one of 5 hostile witnesses set to testify this week on Corona's allleged dollar deposits. The other 4 are Kaya Natin convenor Harvey Keh, former Akbayan representative Rissa Hontiveros-Baraquel, Akbayan Rep. Walden Bello and Emmanuel Santos.
An allegedly leaked document earlier presented by House prosecutors said Corona allegedly has “$700k” or $700,000 in PSBank.
The Ombudsman, meanwhile, has asked Corona to explain why his dollar deposits are not indicated in his statements of assets, liabilities and net worth (SALN). A news report said Corona allegedly has $10 million in different banks.
Philippine Star columnist Jarius Bondoc, meanwhile, quoted news blogs as saying that Corona’s dollar transactions in PSBank Katipunan branch allegedly totaled $2,858,977.22.
“The $2,858,977.22 consists of seven alleged dealings in Philippine Savings Bank-Katipunan branch, near Corona’s Quezon City residence. Six, totaling $2,387,298.76, are deposits and credit memos; one, for $471,678.46, is an outward remittance,” Bondoc reported.
The dollar transactions allegedly occurred between Augut 5, 2008 to July 27, 2011.
Keh, meanwhile, said Corona has at least US$2 million in several accounts in seven banks.
He said he received documents which allegedly contained bank summaries of Corona's dollar deposits.
One of the bank accounts allegedly shows a beginning balance of $379,500.00 in January 2011.
Keh said “there were heavy withdrawals” from the accounts each amounting to $150,000, $250,000 and $300,000 in December 2011, when Corona was impeached by 188 members of the House of Representatives.
Keh also said he received “evidence” allegedly pertaining to a euro account of Corona.
Corona holding dollars in trust?
Last week, Corona defense spokesman Ramon Esguerra admitted that the impeachment court has already established that Corona has dollar accounts.
He said it is now up to Corona to explain why he has dollar deposits and why he did not declare them in his statements of assets, liabilities and net worth (SALN).
Esguerra said one possible explanation is that Corona does not own the money but is holding it in trust for someone else.
“We are not saying that he has no dollar accounts…Let’s say he admits he has 10 dollars. He can say it’s not mine. He can say he is holding the money in trust for somebody. Mahirap lang pangunahan. What he is saying is – you keep accusing me of $10 million, $2 million, $3 million. Prove it first and then I will give my own explanation,” he said.
Meanwhile, Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano said Morales’ testimony in the trial is important since the Senate wants to know if she has evidence that the impeachment court does not have.
He also said Morales’ testimony would establish if the Ombudsman can investigate a sitting Supreme Court justice.
“Can Ombudsman investigate and prosecute a sitting Chief Justice? If yes, can she do the same to the other justices? This is a big issue on the independence of the judiciary,” he told ABS-CBN’s “Umagang Kay Ganda.”
Cayetano said it is also important that Corona testify in the trial so he could finally explain his dollar accounts.
“Even if you have the legal right to remain silent, are you still fit to stay in the position? The people want to see him explain so they can make their own conclusions,” he said. With a report from The Philippine Star