CA affirms extradition of ex-Central Bank official to HK

by Ina Reformina, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 11 2012 01:36 PM | Updated as of Sep 11 2012 09:36 PM

MANILA, Philippines - The Court of Appeals (CA) affirmed a Manila trial court's decision granting the request of the Hong Kong government for the extradition of a former official of the Central Bank of the Philippines, who was slapped with a criminal case for allegedly receiving illegal payments from a subsidiary of the Standard Chartered Bank.

In a 32-page decision of the 6th Division, dated Aug. 30, 2012, penned by Associate Justice Hakim Abdulwahid, the appellate court dismissed the appeal filed by Juan Antonio Muñoz, former head of the Central Bank's Treasury Department, on the Manila Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 8's Nov. 28, 2006 ruling ordering his extradition. 

The trial court found the documents submitted by the Hong Kong government in compliance with the requirements of the RP-Hong Kong Extradition Treaty.

The appellate court agreed with the trial court in junking Munoz's argument that the RP-HK agreement no longer exists after Hong Kong became a part of China on July 1, 1997. The appellate court held that in spite of this, Hong Kong still possesses the authority to enter into international agreements, including extradition treaties. 

"It is thus misplaced for [Munoz] to claim interruption in the effectivity of the treaty and expect further state action from either Hong Kong or China beyond the explicit pronouncements," the ruling read.

While Munoz claimed that the crime he has been charged with in Hong Kong, that of accepting an advantage as an agent and conspiracy to commit fraud, has no equivalent offense in the Philippine -- a requirement under the extradition law -- the appellate court said it was, in fact, equivalent to swindling and violation of the Philippine Anti-Graft Law or Republic Act (RA) No. 3019. 

In its decision, the appellate court also cited the previous extradition to Hong Kong of Alfredo Tiongco and Calvin De Jesus Tan.

In 1994, then Central Bank Gov. Gabriel Singson received information of illegal payments allegedly received by Munoz while transacting business with Moccatta Hong Kong in behalf of the Central Bank.