MANILA – Former Landbank of the Philippines (LBP) and Social Security System (SSS) executives are facing multiple graft complaints filed before the Office of the Ombudsman in connection with the anomalous P9-billion Manila Electric Co. (Meralco) block sale.
Former SSS officials facing graft charges are chairman Thelmo Cunanan, vice-chairman Romulo Neri, Victorino Balais, Donald Dee, Sergio Ortiz-Luiz, Sonny Matula, Marianita Mendoza and Fe Tibayan Palileo.
Also facing graft charges are Landbank officials Albert Balingit, Patricia Rualo-Bello, Cyril Del Callar, Carel Halog, Ombre Hamsirani, Eduardo Nolasco, Gilda Pico, George Regalado, Marianito Roque, Margarito Teves and Roberto Vergara.
According to the Ombudsman’s investigators, Cunanan and the other SSS executives approved a P5.669-billion stock purchase agreement of its Meralco shares of stock to Global 5000 Investment Inc. in 2009.
The block sale, however, ‘was not in accordance with sound business practice as it has the effect of giving P4.535 billion loan to Global 5000’ wherein the company only had a capital of about P62.5 million.
Noting that Global 5000 was only established a year prior the sale, the former SSS officials approved the deal despite the firm’s questionable financial capacity and lack of proven record, waving ‘voting rights to Global despite the lack of full payment and actual transfer of ownership.’
The LBP officials also approved the block sale within 10 days without any negotiations, giving ‘unwarranted benefits, advantage or preference’ to Global 5000.
The key executives are then facing probe for the alleged violation of sections 3(e) and 3(g) of Republic Act No. 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.
The former SSS and Landbank officials, for their part, have earlier defended their block sale, asserting that they observed ‘due diligence and transparency in the transaction.’
Global officials Joselito Campos, Jr., Rhodel Gandingco, Consuelo Lagao, Roberto Ongpin and Iñigo Zobel are also under investigation.