• Some govt sequestered firms kept accounts with thrift bank–NBI

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    SOME sequestered firms managed by then Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG) Chairman Andres Bautista maintained accounts with the Luzon Development Bank (LDB), the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) disclosed on Wednesday.

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    Testifying before the Senate committee on banks, Minerva Retanal, NBI anti-fraud division executive officer, said she made the discovery when her office started investigating the allegation of Bautista’s estranged wife, Patricia, that he amassed around P1 billion in hidden wealth that included cash deposits and condominium units.

    “We’ve already coordinated with several government agencies with respect to the investigation involving the accounts of (Bautista) on Luzon Development Bank (LDB). And we also discovered that sequestered companies or surrendered companies under PCGG maintained accounts with LDB,” Retanal said.

    However, Retanal said these accounts were closed in 2016 when Bautista took over as chairman of the Commission on Elections (Comelec).

    The Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) is also investigating Patricia’s claim that Bautista has over P329.2 million in bank deposits with the LDB, which describes itself as a “thrift bank”.

    He allegedly also maintains a dollar account with Rizal Commercial Banking Corp. amounting to $12,778.30 or P640,959.53; an RCBC (Rizal Commercial Banking Corp.) peso account, P257,931.60; and an HSBC (Hongkong Shanghai Banking Corp.) account worth HK$948,358.97 or P6.10 million.

    Mel Georgie Racela, Anti-Money Laundering Council Secretariat executive director, and Retanal declined to elaborate on the progress of their investigation in view of the bank secrecy law.

    “We received a referral from the NBI dated August 9 and August 16, referring to the AMLC Secretariat the affidavit of Patricia Bautista,” Racela said.

    Bautista served as PCGG chairman from Sept. 13, 2010 up to Apr. 27, 2015.

    Sen. Francis “Chiz” Escudero, committee chairman, said Retanal promised to submit to the Senate a list of the PCGG sequestered firms that maintained accounts with LDB.

     

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