Philippine Farmers' Bank officials face estafa charges

Posted at 02/20/2013 4:00 PM

MANILA, Philippines - The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) and the Philippine Deposit Insurance Corp. (PDIC) have filed a joint complaint for syndicated estafa against executives of shuttered Philippine Farmers' Bank, Inc. and the president of Primebuilder Corp.

The PDIC said in a statement on Wednesday that together with the BSP, they found "irregular and suspicious" funds amounting to P30.22 million paid by the bank for alleged renovation of branches. Philippine Farmers' Bank was found to have misappropriated the funds, using branch renovation as a cover-up.

Aside from investigations done by the BSP and the PDIC, the findings were also supported by sworn statements from Philippine Farmers' Bank's branch operating officers.

As a result, a complaint of syndicated estafa was filed against Ronaldo C. Alaya-ay, owner and chairman of Philippine Farmers' Bank; Rene Tongco, president; Teofilo Garcia, Jr., vice President; and Aimee Santelices, head of treasury department.

Primebuilder's president, Tito Ogarte, was included in the complaint as his company was the one that received disbursements for the supposed renovation works on the bank's branches.

BSP and PDIC's investigations further revealed Ogarte was Alaya-ay's personal driver, and Primebuilder was incorporated by Alaya-ay and Garcia.

"The PDIC and the BSP are working together to complement their findings for the prosecution of the criminal case," PDIC said.

"It is a solid indication that the government shall not tolerate any fraudulent bank practices or elements of banking crime for the protection of the depositing public."

The complaint, filed before the Department pf Justice, was submitted in October last year.

Philippine Farmers' Bank, which has branches in Dagupan, Cabanatuan, Pampanga, Lucena, Mandaue, Ozamis, Iloilo, Cagayan de Oro, Iligan, and Bukidnon, was ordered closed by the BSP's Monetary Board on Sept. 17, 2009.

PDIC has paid out a total of P1.11 billion in deposit insurance claims for 10,978 Philippine Farmers' Bank as of January 2013.