Gatchalian posts bail for graft raps

Carolyn Bonquin, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 15 2016 06:07 PM

MANILA - Senator Sherwin Gatchalian on Friday posted P90,000 bail for his graft, malversation and violation of the manual for regulations of bank charges at the Sandiganbayan.

The newly-elected senator's cases stemmed from the Local Water Utilities Administration's (LWUA) alleged illegal purchase of stocks from a bank owned by the Gatchalian family.

Also charged are Surigao del Sur 1st District Rep. Prospero Pichay, who was the head of LWUA when the purchase was made; the senator's brothers, Kenneth and Weslie; and their parents, plastic tycoon William Gatchalian and Dee Hua.

READ: Gatchalian, Pichay face graft raps at Sandiganbayan

The investigating body accused LWUA of buying 445,377 stocks from ESBI worth P80 million without the approval from the Office of President, the Monetary Board (MB) of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, and the Department of Finance (DOF).

Aside from P80 million paid for the stocks, LWUA also allegedly deposited P300 million in a savings account at ESBI, and another P400 million advance payment for stock subscription to the bank.

The Ombudsman questioned why the transaction pushed through despite negative findings on the diligence audit conducted on ESBI. The bank was allegedly nearing bankruptcy when the transaction took place, with a negative P12.932 million net in 2009, and consistently suffered substantial net losses and capital deficits from 2005 to 2009.

Gatchalian had said he is confident of obtaining a "speedy and definitive" acquittal before the anti-graft court, saying there was no clear evidence linking him to ESBI and the supposedly anomalous sale.

He said he was never involved in the management of the bank, including the negotiations regarding the bank's sale to LWUA in 2009.

"My only involvement with ESBI was my ownership of 14 shares of stock, representing a measly 0.00001886062 percent of the total shareholdings sold to LWUA," he said.

Gatchalian said for the sale of those shares, he received a total of P2,514.82.

"The Ombudsman has such little evidence against me that they have actually started creating facts out of thin air," he said.

"I am ready to fully cooperate with court processes in hopes of obtaining a speedy acquittal from these baseless charges. During my 15-year career in public service, I have never had any allegations of corruption or abuse of power thrown my way. I am confident that the Sandiganbayan will vindicate my honor and put this issue to rest, once and for all," he added.