Senate probers to summon Bautista on alleged questionable deposits

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THE Senate will summon Commission on Elections (Comelec) Chairman Andres Bautista to shed light on his alleged questionable deposits with the Luzon Development Bank (LDB) amounting to over P329.2 million which he supposedly “split” in 35 passbooks.

Sen. Francis Escudero, chairman of the committee on banks, financial institutions, and currencies, granted the motion of Sen. Grace Poe to invite Bautista in the next hearing so he could defend himself from allegations that he hid his ill-gotten wealth with LDB.

The senators said that Bautista, in recent media interviews, said he was open to any investigation to clear his name.

“We are now asking his cooperation regarding this matter so that the truth will come out. And just what he said, in order to clear his name and his family,” Escudero said.


He also sees the need to repeal a provision in the Bank Secrecy Law that requires the bank to secure first a waiver from its depositor before it can disclose details of its client’s account to any investigating body.

Gerardo Auson Jr., LDB senior vice president and banking group head, cited the law when asked to confirm whether the 35 passbooks produced by Bautista’s estranged wife, Patricia, belonged to the Comelec chairman.

David Sarmiento, LDB president, testified that LDB has complied with its duty to file suspicious transaction reports (STRs) regarding deposits, and that it strictly followed all necessary procedures on the opening of accounts by politically exposed persons (PEPs), their immediate family and close associates.

Officials from the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) and the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) were also prohibited by existing laws to provide details about any reports by LDB in the course of its compliance with the reporting mechanism for suspicious transactions.

Francis Lim, LDB counsel, reiterated the bank’s commitment to uphold its fiduciary duty to its depositors. He said that LDB was willing to provide Bautista’s bank details if he would issue a waiver allowing LDB to release his bank account information.

Under Section 3 of Republic Act 1405, it is a criminal offense for banks or any of its employees to disclose details of a particular bank account, or even to confirm its existence, without a written waiver from the concerned depositor.

 

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