Deposits made under the accounts controlled by resigned Commission on Elections (Comelec) chairman Andres Bautista made up 70 percent of Luzon Development Bank’s (LDB) money, Senator Francis “Chiz” Escudero pointed out Wednesday, as his Senate banks committee is inclined to continue its probe on Bautista’s alleged ill-gotten wealth.
“Ang Luzon Development Bank, hindi ganoon kalaking bangko pero hindi ko rin naman sila minamaliit. Ang katuwang assets nila humigit kumulang P5 billion,” Escudero said in an interview on Super Radyo dzBB.
“Ang problema, pag pinagsama-sama mo yung mga accounts ni Chairman Bautista at pinagsama-sama mo yung accounts ng PCGG sequestered corporations na nasa ilalim niya noon, humigit kumulang sisenta hanggang sitenta porsyentong naka-depositong pera sa LDB ay galing sa kanilang dalawa lamang na parehong kontrolado ni Chairman Bautista,” the senator said.
The LDB is under scrutiny after Bautista’s estranged wife, Patricia Paz Bautista, claimed that the former Comelec chief maintained more than 30 bank accounts with the thrift bank with a total balance of P329 million.
In a previous Senate hearing, the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) Anti-Fraud Division said sequestered companies managed by the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG) during the stint of Bautista as chairman, also had accounts with the LDB.
The said accounts were opened in 2012 and closed “sometime” in 2016. Bautista assumed the post of Comelec chairman in 2015.
Escudero said it was also suspicious for the PCGG, under Bautista, to keep bank accounts of sequestered firms with LDB, which is not a government depository bank.
Escudero also said the LDB violated the Anti-Money Laundering Act (AMLA) when it failed to report “extraordinary” transactions that amounted less than P500,000, the threshold amount that would require alerting the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC).
“Kung extraordinary at sunod-sunod, maliwanag ang intensyon na gusto mo lang ma-circumvent yung AMLA, dapat ni-re-red flag pa rin nila yun,” Escudero said.
The Senate banks committee, which Escudero chairs, has yet to scheduled its next hearing on Bautista’s accounts.
Malacañang has accepted Bautista’s resignation effective immediately, two weeks after the former Comelec chief was impeached by the House of Representatives.
“Mas madali na siyang ipatawag ngayon [sa committee hearing] dahil pribadong mamamayan na siya,” Escudero said. — Kathrina Charmaine Alvarez/RSJ, GMA News