Genuino indicted for misuse of P37M
THE Office of the Ombudsman has found probable cause to pursue criminal and other charges against former Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (Pagcor) chairman Efraim Genuino and sports officials in connection with the alleged malversation of more than P37 million in financial assistance supposedly meant for local athletes.
In a joint resolution dated September 22, 2014 signed by Paul Elmer Clemente, Graft Investigation and Prosecution Officer 2, it was recommended that charges of violation of Republic Act 3019 (Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act) and RA 6713 (Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials) be pursued against the respondents.
The case stemmed from the “unlawful direct release of funds” amounting to more than P37 million by Pagcor to the Philippine Amateur Swimming Association (PASA) from 2007 to 2008 and the “unnecessary and excessive” consultancy fee disbursements to a private firm for the maintenance and upkeep of a world-class swimming facility owned by the Genuino family.
The joint resolution was approved on December 17, 2014 by Deputy Ombudsman for Luzon Gerard Mosquera.
The resolution paved the way for the filing of graft and criminal charges against Genuino and his co-accused at the Sandiganbayan.
Two complaints of graft and corruption were separately filed at the Ombudsman by Pagcor and a group composed of 11 athletes, coaches and sports enthusiasts against Genuino, other Pagcor board members and officers, as well as several private individuals.
Besides Genuino, also charged were former Pagcor officials and board members Rafael Francisco, Philip Lo, Danilo Gozo, Manuel Roxas, Rene Figueroa, Ester Hernandez, Valente Custodio and Edward King.
Complainant Susan Papa, president of the Philippine Swimming League (PSL), earlier said they filed the graft charges in connection with a direct funding assistance by Pagcor to PASA, contrary to the provisions of the law that allows Pagcor to remit a portion of its income for local athletes through the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC).
The complainants also filed charges for violation of the Forfeiture Law and Anti-Money Laundering Act against Genuino, former PSC chairman William Ramirez and PASA president Mark Joseph.
Papa claimed that anomalies have long been surrounding the leadership of Joseph since 1986.
“In fine, there is probable cause: to indict respondents Genuino, King, Figueroa, Hernandez and Ramirez for one (1) count of Violation of Sec.3(e) of Republic Act 3019, as amended, with regard to the unlawful direct release of public funds amounting to P37,063,488.21 by Pagcor to PASA; to indict respondents Genuino, King, Figueroa, Hernandez, Custodio, Joseph and Ramirez for one (1) count of Violation of Sec. 3(e) of Republic Act 3019, as amended, to the disbursement of public funds by Pagcor amounting to P9 million to PASA, P910,000 of which has been documented for the unnecessary and excessive consultancy services of Jose Arne Navara and/or Synercraft Control Technologies,” the resolution read.
The Ombudsman gave weight to the complainants’ assertion that Pagcor has no authority to release funds directly to PASA and that the agency should have released the money first through the PSC.
Also, a review of the Commission on Audit showed that PASA eventually used the P34 million to pay TRACE Aquatic Complex (TAC) in Los Baños, Laguna, which is owned by the Genuino family.
Genuino served as a board member of TRACE from 1986 to 2003 while his wife Aurora Flores Genuino was the chairman of the board. Their son Erwin was the president.
In the resolution, the Ombudsman also recommended “the indictment of Genuino “for causing or authorizing the disbursements of public funds as head of Pagcor to an aquatic sports facilities that he effectively owned and controlled.”
Graft investigators also recommended the filing of three separate complaints against the respondents for violation of the anti-graft law. The agency, however, dropped the charges against Lo, Gozo and Roxas “for lack of evidence.”
“A reasonable prudent mind would be constrained to believe that PASA was given unwarranted benefit, preference or advantage through manifest partiality or gross inexcusable negligence when Pagcor directly remitted public funds amounting to [P37 million in PASA’s favor,” government investigators said.
Former lawmaker Anna Dominique Coseteng is among the complainants in the case. She said the scheme employed by Pagcor and PASA was an insult to local athletes.
Joining Coseteng and Papa as complainants are other officials and members of the Philippine Swimming League, Olympian Jairulla Jaitulla and officials and members of the Philippine Aquatic Sports Coaches Association.
Under RA 6847, the law that created the PSC, Pagcor is required to directly remit five percent of its annual gross income to the PSC, which, in turn, shall allocate portions of the funding assistance to specific national sports associations to finance their sports development initiatives, including training of national athletes.
Ramirez was included in the charge sheet by virtue of his being the PSC chairman then and as such “aided, abetted and conspired to perpetrate the unlawful transactions” while Joseph benefited from the disbursements as he facilitated the criminal transfer of funds and he “effectively ‘laundered’ the funds for the benefit of Genuino.”