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‘Chiz’ sets own quiz on Comelec head issue

  • Written by Marlon Purificacion
  • Published in Top Stories
  • Read: 255

ASIDE from the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee, the committee on banks, financial institutions and currencies might conduct a separate probe into the allegations of ill-gotten wealth against Commission on Elections (Comelec)  Chairman Andres Bautista that his own wife earlier made public.

Sen. Francis "Chiz" Escudero, chair of the committee on banks, said his panel will focus on allegations of Bautista's wife, Patricia, with the aim of studying possible amendments to the Banko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) Charter and the Anti-Money Laundering Act (AMLA).
    
"Ang kinita ng Luzon Dev't Bank noong 2014 ay ?6 million tapos 'yung nag-iisang depositor ay ?300 million? May karapatan tayong kwestyunin 'to. Kapag ganoong suspicious ang bank transaction, ay kailangan nang i-report 'yan sa AMLC," said Escudero in an interview over dzBB.
    
Senate Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III earlier filed a resolution calling on the upper chamber to probe the claims of Patricia, who alleged that the Comelec chairman had more than 30 bank accounts in a rural bank.
    
Patricia claimed her husband failed to truthfully disclose his assets in his Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net worth (SALN), making him liable to be impeached.
    
Escudero said he wants to know whether smaller banks are doing their part in reporting suspicious transactions to the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC).
    
He said it could also be that some rural bank owners are in cahoots with politically exposed persons (PEPs) or government officials with potential to be involved in bribery and corruption.
    
"Kapag nasa pulitika ang tao, kailangan alert ang mga banko dahil baka galing sa corruption ang pera," he said.
    
“Banks have this KYC, or Know-Your-Client, rule. It would be good to ask these banks, one, are they reporting deposits, even though less than P500,000, to the AMLA even if these are suspiciously done every day?” Escudero pointed out.
    
He said banks are supposed to ask their clients where they got the money which they can explain by presenting documents and papers that would attest to the legality of the funds to be deposited.
    
Patricia claimed the Comelec chief has 35 passbooks with Luzon Development Bank (LDB) with a total balance of P329,220,962; a foreign currency account with Rizal Commercial Banking Corp. (RCBC) with $12,778.30, or P640,959.53; an RCBC peso account with P257,931.60; and an HSBC account with HK$948,358.97 or P6.10 million.
    
She also alleged Bautista has a condominium unit in One Bonifacio High Street at Bonifacio Global City (BGC) in Taguig City and one in The District in San Francisco, California.
    
Escudero pointed out that under the AMLA, banks are required to automatically issue a red-flag and report to the AMLC when PEPs deposit huge amounts of money in their bank accounts.
    
Escudero said it is imperative to look into the possibility corrupt government officials are using small banks or rural banks to hide ill-gotten wealth to evade the scrutiny of the AMLC.
    
“He (Comelec chairman) said the reason he deposited more with LDB is because he knew the owner. Does that mean he has no reason to trust bigger banks like Metrobank, or BDO?”
    
“I want to know whether there are politicians or government officials who are using smaller banks to hide their wealth so they wouldn’t get noticed or at least their illegal activities are below the radar,” Escudero pointed out.