BSP slaps sanctions on Metrobank

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The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) imposed sanctions on Metropolitan Bank and Trust Co. (MBTC) in connection with the P1.75 billion fraud perpetrated by one of its officers.

The BSP said the sanctions approved by its policy-making body “ranged from reprimand to suspension of directors and officers who failed to perform adequate oversight and/or have been complacent/remiss of their duties and responsibilities.”

Metrobank, the country’s second largest bank in terms of assets, was required to allocate P4.45 billion of its capital on a consolidated basis to cover higher operational risk.

The requirement is subject to periodic review and would be lifted when the bank is determined to have put in place adequate risk control measures to address the weaknesses noted, according to the central bank.


“MBTC was also required to execute and submit a Letter of Commitment, to be implemented and completed within one year, to enhance corporate governance, credit administration, internal controls and audit, risk management, and customer on-boarding and monitoring processes,” it added.

In determining the appropriateness of the sanctions, the Bangko Sentral explained that the Monetary Board took into consideration the bank’s strong financial condition and immediate corrective actions to contain further financial damage.

Metrobank said its board and senior management accept accountability and command responsibility for the incident.

“After conducting a 100 percent audit, the bank reiterates that no customer was affected. This is an isolated incident. The perpetrator acted alone and for her sole benefit. She has been apprehended and cases against her have been filed,” the bank said in a statement.

The bank was referring to Ma. Victoria “Marivic” Lopez, the bank’s vice president, who was caught stealing as much as P2.5 billion from the bank.

The National Bureau of Internal (NBI) filed charges of qualified theft, falsification of documents and violations of the General Banking Law against Lopez, who was arrested on July 18 this year.

Lopez, 54, was one of the bank’s 402 vice presidents. She dealt directly with large corporate clients as vice president and head of the bank’s corporate management services division.

By forging signatures and breaching bank protocols, she was able to establish two bogus corporate loan accounts worth P950 million and P850 million.

She tried to mask the fraudulent loans as drawdowns from a legitimate P25-billion credit facility available to a corporate client, Universal Robina Corp., according to the NBI.

Metrobank said the fraud was detected because the bank proactively reviews and improves its systems.

“With P2.0 trillion in assets and P210 billion in equity, MBTC is in a strong position to set aside P4.45 billion of capital reserve in line with the BSP’s directive,” it said.

In addition, the bank said its has proactively absorbed the entire amount related to the incident in the third quarter of the year.

“Despite this, the growth momentum of the bank remains robust and results for the year are ahead of plan,” it said.

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