Surigao del Sur Rep. Johnny Pimentel has urged the Metropolitan Bank and Trust Co. and the National Bureau of Investigation “to file as many charges as possible” against Ma. Victoria ‘Marivic’ Lopez, the bank’s vice president caught stealing P900 million to P2.5 billion from the country’s second-largest lender.
“They should see to it that the culprit does not get off lightly, if we are to fend off other would-be embezzlers,” Pimentel said.
To suppress internal fraud by dishonest custodians, the lawmaker called on all financial institutions – private and public – to find ways to constantly increase the hazard of getting caught and punished.
“The best way to discourage fraud is by demonstrating to all and sundry that while you can always try to steal, you also risk losing everything and spending a long prison term,” Pimentel said.
The NBI has filed charges of qualified theft, falsification of documents and violations of the General Banking Law against Lopez, who was arrested on July 18.
Lopez, 54, was one of the bank’s 402 vice presidents.
Metrobank, as of April 27, 2017, had three senior executive vice presidents; nine executive vice presidents; 28 senior vice presidents; 59 first vice presidents; 109 vice presidents (Lopez’s rank); and 194 assistant vice presidents.
Lopez dealt directly with large corporate clients as vice president and head of the bank’s corporate management services division.
By forging signatures and breaching bank protocols, she was able to establish two bogus corporate loan accounts worth P950 million and P850 million.
She tried to mask the fraudulent loans as drawdowns from a legitimate P25-billion credit facility available to a corporate client, Universal Robina Corp. (URC), according to the NBI.
Lopez was caught when she tried to siphon some of the money by ordering the preparation of a P2.25-million manager’s check, with the funds to be taken from a deposit account that was supposedly holding the interest payments on the loans.
Banks normally require borrowers to have deposit accounts from which loan interest as well as principal amortizations may be automatically debited.
It is still unclear if Lopez herself created the falsified deposit account.
Metrobank staff became suspicious of the signatures on the application for the manager’s check, and of the curious request for the check to be made payable to a person.
When the staff tried to verify the application with URC, the consumer food and beverage giant denied ordering the manager’s check.
URC also disowned the loan accounts as well as the deposit account from which the amount in the check was supposed to be debited.