THE Court of Appeals (CA) has absolved Globe Asiatique President Delfin Lee from the crime of syndicated estafa and ordered the Philippine National Police, National Bureau of Investigation and the Department of Justice (DOJ) to stop his arrest as it quashed the arrest warrant issued by a Pampanga Regional Trial Court against Lee.
In a 29-page decision penned by Associate Justice Franchito Diamante and concurred in by Associate Justices Agnes Reyes-Carpio and Melchor Sadang, the Court’s Special 15th Division approved the petition for certiorari filed by Lee.
It annulled the decision of Judge Amifaith Fider-Reyes, presiding judge of the San Fernando, Pampanga RTC-Branch 42, saying it was issued “with grave abuse of discretion.”
“Consequently, the warrant of arrest issued against petitioner (Lee) is hereby quashed, recalled and lifted,” the court ruled.
The case against Lee and several others stemmed from the purported anomalous loans amounting to more than P7 billion granted by Pag-IBIG Fund to “ghost borrowers.”
Lee and his co-accused, his son Dexter, Globe Asiatique Xevera Housing project in Mabalacat, Pampanga.
Cristina Sagun, former head of Globe Asiatique’s documentation department, was also charged but was earlier cleared by the appeals court.
In dismissing the case, the court held in its latest ruling that “for estafa to have been committed by a syndicate, the act must be committed by five or more persons.”
“A considered scrutiny of the assailed resolution by public respondent which found probable cause to issue a warrant of arrest against petitioner Lee and his co-accused shows that there was no mention that the acts constituting estafa were done by five or more persons,” it said.
The court said Reyes merely said estafa “could only have been accomplished by and through the sustained supervision and action in concert of a group of persons for the attainment of the same criminal objective.”
Accounting Department head Cristina Salagan, and Pag-IBIG lawyer Alex Alvarez allegedly made it appear that the borrowers bought homes in GA’s