Plunder raps filed vs Ang, Ongpin et al

By Ira Pedrasa,

Posted at Sep 24 2012 12:36 PM | Updated as of Sep 25 2012 01:03 AM

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATE) - Criminal complaints, including plunder, have been filed before the Office of the Ombudsman against officials of San Miguel Global Power Holdings Corp., including chairman Ramon Ang and board member Roberto Ongpin in connection with the allegedly “disadvantageous” purchase of shares in power distributor Manila Electric Co. (Meralco).

Complainant Emilio Aguinaldo Suntay alleged the two colluded with officials of Land Bank of the Philippines, exposing the government to risks of “more than P4 billion.”

Also named as respondents are: Land Bank President Gilda Pico, former Land Bank Chairman Margarito Teves, Land Bank counsel Reynauld Villafuerte, and San Miguel Global Treasurer Rhogel Gandingco, and lawyer Estelito Mendoza.

Asked for comment, Ang and Teves said they have yet to receive and read a copy of the complaint.

The complaint also sought an investigation “for the purposes of filing an impeachment case” against Supreme Court Justice Lucas Bersamin.

The issue stemmed from the 2008 share purchase agreement (SPA) that Land Bank entered into with SMC Global for the purchase of more than 46 million shares in the publicly-listed firm for P4 billion.

The agreement allowed SMC Global to purchase the shares in three installments over three years at a price of P90 per share. The last was due on January 31 this year.

The SPA, nonetheless, has long been cancelled.

Suntay claimed he has documents proving that the Land Bank officials merely accepted the terms of SMC Global sans the benefit of due diligence.

He said that the government financial institution ignored a “better” cash-based offer of P90 per share made by Metro Pacific Investments Corp.

“Interest alone forgone by accepting respondent SMC Global’s offer robbed the government more than at least P157 million annually,” Suntay said.

He noted that the respondents are already currently embroiled in other controversies, including the $180 million loan to Ongpin’s Global Air Services. The issue was investigated by the Senate.

Similar to the case mentioned above, the firm involved in the loans allegedly does not have enough capital.

“On January 28, 2012, the Commission on Audit found that SMC Global only had a paid-up capitalization of less than P63 million as of January 2009,” Suntay said. The SPA was entered into on December 2008.

As such, SMC Global and Ongpin’s credit history are “dubious if non-existent,” he said. He also alleged that the funds managed by Ongpin “are money laundered.”

“Between [Ang and Ongpin], a windfall in ‘paper’ profit is generated for every transaction…The net result is respondent Ongpin…now part of the major voting block of respondent SMC,” he added.

He said that Mendoza, for his part, has “nurtured a relationship with many officials in government including the judiciary.” 

Mendoza represents SMC in many cases, including a petition questioning the Meralco deal before the Supreme Court.

Bersamin, on the other hand, is the author of the case. Suntay alleged that he “always gets himself assigned as the ponente thereafter favoring cases handled by respondent Mendoza.”

Suntay also asked the Ombudsman to determine the respondents’ violations in the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.

He also asked for an investigation “leading to the disqualification of respondents SMC Global, SMC and its subsidiaries…from participating in subsequent bids and auction for government projects…”