Metrobank exec charged for P1.75-B fraudulent loans

Ina Reformina, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 21 2017 11:24 PM

Maria Victoria Lopez, head of Metrobank’s Corporate Service Management, covers her face as she is presented to the media during a press conference at the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) headquarters in Manila on Friday. George Calvelo, ABS-CBN News

Metropolitan Bank and Trust Co. (Metrobank) has filed criminal charges against one of its ranking officials responsible for allegedly fraudulent loan transactions amounting to P1.75 billion.

Charged with qualified theft, falsification, and violation of the General Banking Law before the Makati City Prosecutor’s Office is the bank’s corporate services management division head, Ma. Victoria “Marivic” S. Lopez, who was arrested by operatives of the National Bureau of Investigation’s (NBI) Anti-Fraud Division on July 17 at Metrobank’s main office in Makati City.

Lopez was presented to the media on Friday afternoon.

In a news conference, NBI Deputy Director Ferdinand Lavin said the bureau’s entrapment operation against Lopez was upon the request of the bank, adding a follow up investigation will be done to zero on on “other possible collaborators and co-conspirators.”

NBI agent on case Normando Anire said the allegedly fraudulent loan transactions were made in two separate tranches amounting to P900 million and P850 million on behalf of a single valued corporate client with a credit line of P25-billion.

The client was unaware of the loan transactions, and did not make any request for the same.

“Based on the presentation of the bank it appears that the subject, being the corporate services management head of the bank, is in charge of valued clients, valued corporate clients. So in this particular case, she is handling a client which has a P25-billion credit line with the bank, and being the corporate services management head she is, according to the bank... more or less independent because she is supposedly trusted by the client.

“So upon her mere say so, the bank can issue large loans - draw downs - on the credit line of P25 billion. One was P900 million and the other was P850 million,” Anire said.

What gave Lopez away was a “falsified letter” directing the bank to issue a manager’s check in favor of an individual payee for interest payments for the loans, amounting to P2.25-million. 

Aside from irregularities on the letter itself such as “dubious signatures,” upon verification with the client, the client bared they were not aware of said letter request and the account from which the manager’s check was supposed to be debited.

Lopez also gave instructions to debit the amount of P2.25 million from the client’s saving’s account for interest payment.

The charges against Lopez were in connection with the interest payment transaction; the NBI said it will dig deeper into the reported fraud so charges may be slapped against her in connection with the two allegedly fraudulent loan transactions. The bureau said it will also look into the possibility of Lopez having engaged in the same
fraudulent modus involving other clients.

In a statement, Metrobank said it “is reinforcing its commitment to the highest standards of integrity and upholds the protection of its customers as main priority.”

“No customer has been affected in this incident. In the context of the bank’s P1.9-trillion financial resources, rest assured that we continue to operate business as usual for the bank and our customers,” the bank said.