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De los Angeles withdrawing millions from Legacy accounts

The Philippine Star
March 3, 2009
by Christina Mendez

MANILA, Philippines – Legacy owner and businessman Celso de los Angeles has been withdrawing P20 million to P40 million from both the trust and corporate accounts of the Legacy Group of Companies even if he claimed in the congressional inquiries at the House of Representatives and the Senate that he had divested interests from the company since 2007.

Philip Piccio, president of the Parents-Enabling Parents (PEP) coalition, lashed out at the representatives of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) for their apparent slow-paced actions in freezing the Legacy accounts in favor of the aggrieved plan holders.

In the congressional inquiries, De los Angeles said he divested his interests in Legacy after being elected as mayor of Sto. Niño town in Albay.

Piccio noted that about P20 million was withdrawn by De los Angeles on various occasions last year.

“More or less it’s P20 million. He signed as CEO and chairman of the board of SPPI which is Scholarship Plans Philippines Inc. and LCPI, Legacy Consolidated Inc. when in fact he said he was not chairman and CEO. And as a matter of fact, under the GIS (General Information Sheet filed with the SEC), he is not the chairman and CEO,” Piccio said in an interview.

Some of the documents were signed by De los Angeles himself, including a letter dated sometime October last year where he requested millions from the Land Bank of the Philippines to “reimburse” the supposed amounts Legacy gave to its plan holders as payments for their premiums.

Some of the withdrawals made through Scholarship Plan Philippines, one of the Legacy corporations, were done on Nov. 8, 2008, when P3.043 million was withdrawn from the trust account at the Land Bank. The same amount was deposited in De los Angeles’ account with the Banco de Oro, with account number 5330028702.

Under SEC records in 2008, Carolina Nola Pinol was listed as chairman and CEO of the two groups, Piccio said.

“That’s the biggest question, why are they releasing (funds) under the instructions of the person who is not the chairman and CEO as he represents himself. Why are you releasing funds when you know he is a mayor, and that he is supposed to have divested,” Piccio said.

He said he received reports that some P48 million have been transferred from these corporations to his personal accounts. He said he is collating the documents pertaining to a series of fund transfers from the corporations under Legacy.

In yesterday’s Senate hearing, former rural bank executives Paul Stephen Montenegro, president and chairman of the Board of Directors of the Rural Bank of Bais Inc., and Myrna Castillo Axalan, former vice president for marketing of Legacy Consolidated Plans Inc. spilled the beans against De los Angeles.

De los Angeles was absent at yesterday’s hearing, allegedly to be with his mother who is comatose in Albay.

In her affidavit read during the joint public hearing of the committees on trade and commerce, and banks, financial institutions and currencies, Axalan said she was involved in handling the marketing aspect – along with 10 other marketing officers – of the bank products, three-year buy-back program and pension plan, educational and memorial plan.

The bank products program is designed to double one’s money in five years by depositing investors’ money with any rural bank affiliated with Legacy and in return, the chosen rural bank issues a certificate of time deposit under the name of the investor.

The three-year buy-back program is where deposits of investors will double in three years, with investors getting 12 postdated checks as payment for their investment.

Axalan pointed to De los Angeles’ direct participation in Legacy’s operations during the regular monthly meetings of the Marketing Committee called by De los Angeles. She named members of the executive committee as Carolina Hinola, Namnama Santos Pacetes, Atty. Christine Antinor-Limpin, Atty. Norman Tiongson, Virgilio Odejar and a certain Atty. Noel from the Legacy’s legal department.

“Now, I find the Legacy products… highly fraudulent, really designed to defraud us, by the very act that in spite of generous promises of high returns, investors and planholders got nothing while Mr. De los Angeles still maintains a high standard of living with his luxury cars, mansions, yacht and other worldly amenities and expensive material possessions,” she added.

Meanwhile, Sen. Mar Roxas criticized the government’s “lackadaisical attitude” in helping the ailing pre-need industry, saying it has become more apparent with the slow-paced action of the Department of Justice (DOJ) in investigating cases filed against the Legacy Group.

Roxas branded as “Task Force Pagong (Turtle)” the task force created by Justice Secretary Raul Gonzalez to supposedly fast-track the preliminary investigation of the various criminal charges filed by the BSP and SEC and a group of private investors.

Roxas lost his cool after Senior State Counsel Rosario Cuevas, a member of the task force, told the panel that the first preliminary investigation hearing into the BSP case against Legacy has been scheduled on March 6, which he noted was almost a month after the task force was activated. Cuevas said the delayed process was partly because the task force had first asked all parties involved to submit their respective affidavits and counter-affidavits before the first hearing was set.

March 3, 2009 - Posted by | Philippine Newspapers/Web News | , , , , ,

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