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Ex-BSP exec kin in Legacy ‘harassment’

By Maila Ager
INQUIRER.net
First Posted 10:36:00 02/02/2009

MANILA, Philippines — (UPDATE 3) A relative of a former official of the central bank, Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP), has been accused of “regulatory harassment” by the president of a distressed group of pre-need companies.

Celso de los Angeles of Legacy identified the person as Efren Reyes, brother of former BSP deputy governor Alberto Reyes.

De los Angeles told the Senate committees on trade and commerce, and banks, financial institutions and currencies on Monday that the Legacy group failed to pay its plan holders and investors because the company had been subjected to “regulatory harassment” and “persecution.”

“What went wrong Mr. De los Angeles? Bakit hindi kayo nakatupad sa pangako [Why did you fail to fulfill your promise]?” asked Senator Francis Escudero, chairman of the banks committee.

De los Angeles blamed “regulatory harassment and persecution, irresponsible media reporting, and extortion” for Legacy’s failure to deliver its commitments to their clients.

“First, we have been subjected to regulatory harassment and persecution. Number two, we’re subjected to adverse and irresponsible media reporting. Number three, there were extortion groups that bribed and attempted to get money from us na nahuli naman ng mga authorities [whom the authorities arrested] after an entrapment operation,” De los Angeles said.

De los Angeles said Reyes would borrow from his banks but when he would ask for payment, the BSP would suddenly send a special audit for his company.

“Early on, uutang po yung isang kamag-anak sa akin, sa bangko ko po. Pag singilin ko ho, papasok po yung special audit sa amin. Sabay-sabay po kaming ini-especial audit [a relative will borrow from me, my bank. When I ask for payment, a special audit team will be sent to us. We would all be subjected to special audit],” he said. 

“And then another occasion, uutang na naman. Pag singilin ko naman ho, i-special audit ho ako [he would borrow again. When I ask him to pay, another special audit would be performed],” he said.

Asked by Senator Francis “Chiz” Escudero, chairman of the committee on banks, to identify these people, De los Angeles said, “Ang pangalan po nung relative, nung kapatid [The name of the relative, the sibling] of the examination department of BSP at that time, is Efren Reyes, kapatid po ni [the brother of] former deputy governor Alberto Reyes.” 

Alberto Reyes retired three years ago.

Delos Angeles said that in 2000, Efren Reyes got a loan from his banks, which ballooned to P1.4 million in 2003.

“Hindi ho nabayaran [He was not able to pay]. Finally in July 2003, we sent a demand letter. The loan [had] ballooned to P1.4 million. And in August of the same year, we were served with authorization for special audit for all our banks,” he said.

In September of the same year, De los Angeles said Efren Reyes also offered to become his “consultant” supposedly to solve all his problems in the BSP.

“I received an offer from the same person to act as my consultant to solve all my problems in BSP, for an acceptance fee of P500,000,” De los Angeles said.

In October 2003, De los Angeles said Efren Reyes borrowed another P1 million from one of his banks.

Earlier in the hearing, Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile and Senator Manuel “Mar” Roxas II grilled Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Chairman Fe Barin for allegedly failing to protect the interests of the people by allowing unstable pre-need companies to prey on them.

“My goodness, when there’s already a danger, why did you not stop these predators from continuing their businesses in order to protect the interest of the people?” Enrile asked.

“Evidently, the way we see it here in Congress, there’s a failure of regulation, a failure of governance in protecting the general public in all these financial democrats…” he said.

Roxas also expressed his disappointment over the SEC’s failure to arrest the problem.

On Roxas’ questioning, Barin told the committees that they were only informed last December 8 or 9 that Legacy had applied for voluntary dissolution.

The Legacy group owns the Legacy Consolidated Plans Inc., Scholarship Plan Philippines Inc. and All Asia Plans Corp.

Barin admitted later in the inquiry that the SEC might have had shortcomings, citing a lack of manpower, an answer that did not sit well with Enrile and Roxas.

“You don’t need an army to do that. My goodness!” said Enrile. “That is your commitment as a bureaucrat, not to protect the interest of these predators.”

Barin countered that the Commission was not protecting the interest of these companies, saying she would leave it up to the senators to judge if they had been negligent or inefficient.

“I’m really saddened by your response dahil naghuhugas po kayo ng kamay [you are washing your hands off]. Nag-iiwas po kayo ng responsibilidad [You are reneging on your responsibility],’ Roxas said.

February 2, 2009 - Posted by | Philippine Newspapers/Web News | , , , ,

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