Benito Araneta nabbed for P225.9M estafa case

By Mike Frialde, The Philippine Star

Posted at Aug 14 2014 02:45 AM | Updated as of Aug 14 2014 10:45 AM

MANILA, Philippines - Agents of the Philippine National Police Intelligence Group on Tuesday arrested a cousin of former first gentleman Jose Miguel Arroyo for alleged involvement in the P229.5-million syndicated estafa case that caused the collapse of the LBC Development Bank in 2011.

According to the PNP, Benito Ramon Araneta was arrested at about 3:50 p.m. at his residence on Acacia Avenue in Ayala Alabang Village, Muntinlupa.

Police said Araneta was arrested by officers from the Intelligence Unit National Capital Region led by Inspector Christian Burgos, who coordinated with the Ayala Alabang police and officials of Barangay Ayala Alabang.

Araneta is now detained at Camp Crame in Quezon City.

Police said Araneta was arrested after the Department of Justice’s Task Force on Financial Fraud approved the filing of a complaint for syndicated estafa against him. The offense is non-bailable.

Police said Araneta is facing 16 counts of syndicated estafa before the Makati Regional Trial Court Branch 143 under Presiding Judge Maximo de Leon.

The DOJ had earlier approved the filing of syndicated estafa charge against Araneta for having borrowed almost P230 million with non-existent collateral from the LBC Development Bank that helped trigger the thrift bank’s collapse.

Also charged along with Araneta with the same non-bailable offense was LBC Bank chairman and president Ma. Eliza Berenguer, who the DOJ said had ordered the release of bank depositors’ money to fund Araneta’s borrowing scheme.

The DOJ rejected Araneta and Berenguer’s claim that bank receiver Philippine Deposit Insurance Corp. (PDIC) had been concealing the promissory notes allegedly executed by Araneta as collateral to the borrowings.

Araneta’s sister, Urdaneta Apartments corporate secretary Maria Lourdes Senn and three others, were cleared of the same charges for lack of evidence.

The DOJ’s Task Force on Financial Fraud released a new resolution after the six original accused petitioned for a review of the original 2013 indictment.

Araneta’s cousin Carlos Araneta owned the collapsed bank and his family also controls the LBC remittance and cargo business.

The bank borrowings were made between 2006 and 2008 when Benito Araneta was an independent director of Philweb and related companies. –Cecille Suerte Felipe