PEP Coalition

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Witness belies Legacy owner’s claims

ABS-CBN News

By RICKY CARANDANG, ABS-CBN News | 03/03/2009 10:52 PM

For weeks, bankrupt Legacy Group’s founder Celso de los Angeles has been a fixture at congressional investigations into the collapse of his rural banks and pre-need firms. But de los Angeles consistently denied allegations that he stole depositors money in an elaborate Ponzi scheme.

Even in a recent interview on ANC’s The Big Picture, de los Angeles denied that he defrauded depositors and investors.

But a witness has come forward to debunk de los Angeles’ claim of innocence. The witness, a former employee of the Legacy Group, claimed first-hand knowledge that de los Angeles siphoned away millions of pesos in deposits. He refused to be identified out of fear of retribution.

“Celso [himself] was the one making the decisions,” the witness told ABS-CBN News.

When asked if he has proof to back up his claims, the witness then handed over several documents. “Here are some deposit slips and cash vouchers that show that the money went into his personal accounts,” he said.

The checks and cash vouchers prove that de los Angeles used company funds for his personal expenses, including his 2007 election campaign, the witness stressed.

He said he and other witnesses are prepared to present the documents before proper investigating bodies, but preferred that the Department of Justice and the Senate assure their safety first. They are currently under the custody of Philip Piccio of the PEP coalition, a group of planholders who are demanding payment from the pre-need companies.

“We are Legacy employees. We are afraid that de los Angeles will just wash his hands and leave us holding the bag,” the witness said in Filipino. “I cannot stomach what they are doing to ordinary people anymore…That is why we are asking for protection from Mr. Mar Roxas.”

Piccio said more witnesses will come out soon to prove that delos Angeles masterminded massive fraud using his companies, adding that PEP is prepared to reveal the names of more politicians who benefitted from Legacy’s get-rich-quick schemes.

More trouble

Meantime, the Philippine Deposit Insurance Corporation (PDIC) revealed during the resumption of the House hearing on the Legacy Group on Tuesday that it discovered a number of suspicious bank accounts, which were opened days before the Legacy’s rural banks closed in December and January.

The PDIC is servicing claims of insured depositors, but it has discovered suspicious savings accounts, which were split into different accounts not exceeding P250,000 each. These meet the maximum insurance coverage of the PDIC.

Lawmakers suspect the owner of the accounts are Legacy officials who wanted to recover money even after the banks collapsed.

This prompted Congressman Rufus Rodriguez to call on the Securities and Exchange Commission and the PDIC to follow BSP’s move to each file separate syndicated estafa cases against delos Angeles.

If the congressman from Cagayan de Oro would have his way, these cases would aggregate to more than 22 charges of syndicated estafa against de los Angeles. He said de los Angeles should spend “800 years in jail.”

Syndicated estafa is a non-bailable offense that has a maximum penalty of life imprisonment or 40 years.

“You should file also as many banks, file also syndicated estafa so that we have 880 years for Celso de los Angeles,” Rodriguez stressed.

“We are only talking about 14 banks and they’re robbing the Filipino people,” said Rep. Isidro Ungab of Davao City.

De los Angeles did not show up in Tueday’s hearing to attend to his ailing mother.

Meanwhile, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas said it will file another batch of cases against de los Angeles. – with reports from WILLARD CHENG, ABS-CBN News
 

as of 03/04/2009 11:19 AM

March 4, 2009 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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