Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian pleaded not guilty to the graft, malversation, and violation of the Manual of Regulation for Banks charges filed against him and several others over the alleged anomalous acquisition by the Local Water Utilities Administration’s (LWUA) of a bank in 2009.
Gatchalian was conditionally arraigned on Monday before the Sandiganbayan’s Fourth Division as one of the requirements for the issuance of a travel clearance.
The senator sought the court’s permission to travel because he was to be part of the Philippine delegation during President Rodrigo Duterte’s visit to China on October 18 to 21.
The senator also posted a travel bond of P270,000.
Gatchalian, other former executives of Wellex Group Inc. (WGI), former LWUA Chairman and now Surigao del Sur Rep. Prospero Pichay and several others were charged in connection with LWUA’s acquisition of the Express Savings Bank Inc. (ESBI), a local thrift bank based in Laguna which was supposedly owned by WGI and Forum Pacific Inc. (FPI).
The Ombudsman alleged, among others, that the former LWUA Board passed a resolution in March 2009 approving the acquisition of ESBI without the required regulatory approval of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas’ Monetary Board, Department of Finance, and the Office of the President.
Gatchalian said the charges against him should be dismissed because he was not an ESBI official and that he was not involved in the management and affairs of the bank.