A multinational investment company wants Justice Secretary Leila de Lima to explain her flip-flopping orders on the transfer of a multi-million peso criminal suit against the firm.
Questions are mounting about the conflicting orders issued by the Department of Justice (DOJ) on the transfer of the venue of a case that several lawyers said cast doubt on the impartiality of the agency.
Philippine Investment Two, Inc. (PI II) wanted clarification from de Lima over three separate orders she issued “which raises serious questions on the actions of certain officials in your Honorable Office.”
In a letter to the DOJ on July 5, Alfonzo Verzosa and James Benedict Panopio, counsels for Philippine Investment Two, said the DOJ orders had prejudiced the criminal cases the company filed with the Makati Office of the City Prosecutor against officials of the Standard Chartered Bank (SCB), represented by law firm ACCRALAW.
PI II filed a criminal case last December against Standard Chartered officials Mahendra Gursahani, Chun Wei Yeong, Kathrina Sebastian, and Karen Chin Geok Go for deliberately withholding vital information on Philippine Investment’s rehabilitation proceedings before the Makati Regional Trial Court (RTC).
The firm also filed a perjury case with the Makati Prosecutor against the same officials for allegedly deliberately issuing false statements during PI II’s rehabilitation proceedings.
“We wish to respectfully inquire about the circumstances that led to the sudden issuance of Department Order No. 347 dated 20 May which was later reversed by Department Order No. 417 dated 27 May, but was mysteriously reinstated again through Department Order No. 460 dated 18 June, re-designating (DoJ) Prosecution Attorney Caterina Isabel C.
Caeg to conduct the preliminary investigation on the two criminal actions instituted by PI II against certain officers of Standard Chartered Bank before the Makati City Prosecutor,” Divina Law said in a letter to De Lima.
The lawyers pointed out that the DOJ orders did not explain why the preliminary investigation of PI II’s complaints against Standard Chartered was suddenly transferred to the DOJ, after the Makati prosecutor had finished its probe and was set to rule on the two cases.
“DO No. 347 was issued under dubious circumstances. Aside from the fact that the preliminary investigation was already in the terminal stage when the issuance was made thereby creating doubt on its motivation and timeliness, it must be emphasized that the immediate release and ready availability of DO No. 347 to ACCRALAW, a private law firm of SCB, raises serious doubts on the actions of certain officials in your Honorable Office,” the lawyers said.
PI II has been consulting banking regulators in New York which had jurisdiction over some aspects of its case against Standard Chartered.
“In December 2012, the New York Banking regulators through the New York District Attorney’s Office fined SCB $327 million for illegal transactions committed by SCB that mirror SCB’s own transgressions against PI II in the Philippines,” the lawyers added.
PI II, the former local unit of the defunct Lehman Brothers Holdings, Inc., alleged that SCB officials had deliberately misled the rehabilitation court by denying that it had some $90 million in collaterals for the P819 million in loans it extended to PI II in 2007.