Real estate firm says Binay did not get P200M kickbacks
Alphaland Corp. on Thursday denied allegations by former Makati Vice Mayor Ernesto Mercado that Vice President Jejomar Binay received almost P200 million in kickbacks from a deal between the company and the Boy Scouts of the Philippines (BSP).
In a statement, Alphaland said it was Mercado who tried to negotiate a kickback because it was he who transacted with the real-estate firm.
The firm, however, maintained that no kickback was given to any official in connection with the development of a one-hectare BSP property located in Makati City (Metro Manila).
Binay is the president of the BSP.
Appearing at the Senate also on Thursday, Mercado said Binay pocketed five percent of the 20 percent share of BSP from the sale of the property, which was donated to the BSP by by Sime Darby in 1976.
“Kinuhanan ni VP Binay ng 5% ang mga Boy Scouts sa Alphaland deal upang gamitin sa 2010 elections [Binay got 5 percent from Boy Scouts],” he added.
The former vice mayor said the 5 percent is equivalent to P200 million.
He, however, claimed that the BSP has not received anything from the transaction..
The Makati property was sold to Silvertown under a joint sale agreement between the BSP and Sime Darby. Silvertown was later acquired by Alphaland.
The property was appraised at P1 billion by an independent appraiser.
In 2008, the BSP and Alphaland entered into an agreement to develop the property but the BSP will retain ownership of the land.
“The BSP would get 15 percent of the project while Alphaland would get 85 percent,” Mercado said.
He added that he wanted to get 20 percent for the BSP.
The former vice mayor said Gerry Limlingan, alleged “bagman” of Binay, persuaded him to sign the agreement, telling him that 15 percent would go to the BSP and the remaining 5 percent will go to Binay’s campaign kitty.
According to Mercado, Alphaland president and CEO Mario Oreta told him that Binay’s share was invested in Noble Care Management Corp. supposedly to launder the kickbacks.
This was denied by the company.
“Alphaland categorically, and in the strongest possible terms, denies
these baseless and false allegations of Mr. Mercado.
We confirm that there was a deal between Alphaland and Boy Scouts in
connection with that one-hectare prime property in Makati City
(located at Malugay Street corner Ayala Avenue Extension) but that
deal was entirely above board,” the company said.
It cited a letter sent by Oreta in response to Mercado’s allegations.
Oreta noted that it was Mercado who negotiated with his company, and it was the former vice mayor who also signed the contract in behalf of the BSP in his capacity as Senior Vice President and Head of Asset Management Committee.
“I am sure you will remember that you made less than subtle hints
that some ‘benefits’ were due to you for agreeing to conclude this
project, and I am sure that you will also remember what I explained to you that Alphaland was a joint venture company with the Ashmore Group, and that every transaction was closely scrutinized by Ashmore. Thus,
it was impossible for Alphaland to agree to give you any such
‘benefits,’” he said.
Oreta noted that before entering into the transaction with the BSP, an independent company appraised the property and valued it at P1 billion.
“Obviously, Sime Darby which owned 40 percent of the property had their own
appraisal made, and it was on this basis that Sime Darby readily
agreed to sell the 40 percent ownership to Alphaland for P400 million.
Thus, when the Boy Scouts contributed its 60 percent ownership to the
project, it was valued on the same basis as the appraisal and selling
price of Sime Darby to Alphaland, i.e. P600 million, thus earning it a fully carried interest of 15 percent of the project, which was estimated to
cost P4 billion, all of which would be paid for by Alphaland,” he said.
Oreta added that contrary to Mercado’s claims, the transaction with Alphaland was the Boy Scouts’ most successful investment.
“In the face of all of these facts, I had advised you to be very
careful about what you say or infer about this project since it might
blow up in your face. For how can you criticize this transaction which you personally negotiated with me and which is undoubtedly one of the best and successful investments ever made by the Boy Scouts.
It is now obvious that you have chosen to ignore my advice and
instead drag this transaction as part of your politically motivated
and never ending tirade against the Vice President,” he said.
The company said it will file a P100-million libel complaint against Mercado for damaging Alphaland’s reputation through baseless allegations.
Meanwhile, the camp of Binay said the investigation being held by the Senate blue ribbon committee is a farce.
“Malinaw na lokohan na ang nangyayari dahil ang tao na ayon sa Alphaland ay nanghingi ng kickback ang siyang ginagamit na witness para siraan si Vice President Binay [What is happening is a joke because the person that Alphaland said was asking for a kickback is the same person that is being used as a witness to smear the Vice President],” Rico Paolo Quicho, Binay’s spokesman on political affairs, said.