The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas filed last week with the Department of Justice a case of large-scale estafa against Celso G. de los Angeles, Jr. and Pilipino Rural Bank’s former presidents and board members Alexis Petralba and Wilfredo Novo for conspiring to willfully, unlawfully and fraudulently withdrawing and siphoning off P262.2 million from Cebu-based Pilipino Rural Bank to the detriment and prejudice of the depositing public and its creditors.
Bank records and statements of witnesses indicated that with the indispensable cooperation of these two officers, unauthorized diversion of funds were made to the current account maintained by Mr. de los Angeles at Pilipino Rural Bank through fraudulent accommodation of 3,402 unfunded and returned checks amounting to P262.2 million from September 2007 and September 2008. Mr. de los Angeles therefore illegally extracted funds from Pilipino Rural Bank with the use of his current account. Mr. Petralba was president of Pilipino Rural Bank from 2003 to 2005 and later named as director/consultant while Mr. Novo was president and chairman of the board from 2006 until the closure of the bank in December 2008.
It will be recalled that Pilipino Rural Bank unilaterally declared a bank holiday effective 8 December 2008, to the great damage and prejudice of the public which as of September 2008 had deposits with the bank amounting to P2.27 billion.
The Bangko Sentral said the elements of large-scale estafa under Section 1 of Presidential Decree 1689 in relation to Article 315 of the Revised Penal Code are present and, thus, there is probable cause to hold the respondents criminally liable.
The Bangko Sentral also requested the Department of Justice to include the respondents in the watchlist of the Bureau of Immigration.
This case constitutes the seventh filed by Bangko Sentral with the Department of Justice against Legacy officials: four for syndicated estafa, one for large-scale estafa, and two for the falsification of a total of 165 public and commercial documents.
Bangko Sentral filed on 26 February 2009 with the DOJ its first case for syndicated estafa against Celso G. delos Angeles, Jr., and other officers of the Legacy Group and affiliated companies involving P1 billion (one billion pesos) siphoned from the Rural Bank of DARBCI, a rural bank with offices in General Santos City and Cebu City. While records as of 30 September 2008 indicated that RB DARBCI had P830 million in deposits raised from the public, its cash position was less than P1 million (one million pesos ) as of the same date.
The second case for syndicated estafa was filed on 6 March 2009 against Celso G. delos Angeles, Jr., and other officers of the Legacy Group and affiliated companies. The case involves at least P487 million of solicited funds received in trust from depositors/investors of First Interstate Bank (Rural Bank of Kananga, Leyte) that respondents have willfully, unlawfully and fraudulently misappropriated. FIB which was based in Kananga and had branches in Palo, Maasin, Hilongos, Carigara and Baybay, all in Leyte.
The third case for syndicated estafa was filed on 24 March 2009 against Celso G. delos Angeles, Jr. and other officers of the Legacy Group for fraudulently siphoning off P500 million worth of deposits and investments from the Rural Bank of Bais Inc. which was based in Negros Oriental.
The fourth case for syndicated estafa was filed on 13 April 2009 against Celso G. delos Angeles, Jr. and other officers of the Legacy Group for the misappropriation of P70 million intended as capital infusion of Rural Bank of DARBCI, Inc. which is based in General Santos City.
The first case for 49 counts of falsification of public and commercial documents was filed on 5 January 2009 against 16 officers, employees and agents, plus one case each of false reporting and false statement.
The second case of falsification filed on 6 February 2009 with the DoJ involved 116 counts of falsification of public and commercial documents plus 2 counts of false statements against 18 officers, employees, and agents of four (4) rural banks belonging to the Legacy Group.