In a Decision promulgated yesterday, April 3, former RBSM President Hilario P. Soriano was found guilty of four (4) counts of estafa by the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Bulacan, Branch 11, presided by Judge Basilio R. Gabo, Jr., in the following criminal cases:
Criminal Case No. 1178 – This case stemmed from the diversion by Mr. Soriano of the proceeds of the emergency loan granted to RBSM in the amount of PhP 12.6 Million. Instead of being utilized to service the withdrawals of depositors, this amount was misappropriated by Mr. Soriano. Witnesses testified that the amount was brought to Mr. Soriano’s residence. In his decision, Judge Gabo noted the testimony of one of the prosecution’s witnesses that: “The money was never returned to RBSM before the bank declared a bank holiday on January 5, 2000; neither was it used to fund heavy withdrawals of the depositors.” He added that: the “Defense evidence merely involved the denial that P12.6 Million emergency loan granted by the BSP was entirely used for the personal gain of accused. As a rule, denials are weak forms of defenses, particularly where they are not substantiated by clear and convincing evidence. The defense of Soriano consisted of hazy denials that do not merit any consideration before this court of law as against the clear, straightforward and unshaken testimony of prosecution witnesses who were all present during the time material to these cases.” The BSP was the complainant in this case.
Criminal Cases Nos. 1179-1181 – These cases arose from the unauthorized transfers of RBSM funds in the aggregate amount of PhP 21.0 Million to Soriano Holdings Corporation, one of the many companies owned and controlled by Mr. Soriano. On three (3) separate occasions in November and December of 1999, Mr. Soriano transferred the amounts of PhP 10.0 Million, PhP 7.0 Million and PhP 4.0 Million to Soriano Holdings Corporation. The transfers were supposedly made by Mr. Soriano to Soriano Holdings Corporation for investment purposes. In his decision, Judge Gabo said: “it is apparent that accused Soriano did not have any intention of using the RBSM funds for investment. Moreover, granting that the same will be used for investment purposes, accused Soriano is aware that banks may not engage in investments except for those authorized by the Monetary Board of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas…” He added: “Accused Soriano cunningly took advantage of his position as the president of RBSM in order to deceive the RBSM employees when he convinced them to terminate RBSM deposits and collect cash from various branches of RBSM for the purchase of manager’s checks payable to his other corporation (SHC)….” Judge Gabo further stated: “The misrepresentation was facilitated by the fact that accused Soriano was the president of RBSM, as such it was easier for him to make the bank employees believe that RBSM had the capacity to undertake the investment for the bank.” Judge Gabo declared: “There being no contest or defense at all on the liability of accused Soriano in Criminal Case Nos. 1179 to 1181, the culpability for Estafa is inevitable.” The BSP and the PDIC are co-complainants in these cases.
Mr. Soriano was sentenced, for each count, to a prison term ranging from ten (10) years of prision mayor to fourteen (14) years, eight (8) months and one (1) day of reclusion temporal, or a total of from forty (40) to fifty-nine (59) years imprisonment, more or less. Corollarily, Mr. Soriano was adjudged to indemnify the BSP the amount of PhP 12.6 Million in Criminal Case No. 1178 and the PDIC in the amount of PhP 21.0 Million in Criminal Cases Nos. 1179-1181.
There are still seven (7) pending criminal cases of estafa thru falsification against Mr. Soriano before the different salas of the RTC of Bulacan involving the RBSM. Also, two (2) other criminal cases are pending against him before the RTC of Batangas City and the MTC of Baliuag, Bulacan involving his other (closed) bank, the First Coconut Rural Bank (Batangas), Inc. (FCRBI).