Corona, wife indicted for P130M unexplained wealth

Posted at 01/29/14 4:22 PM

Forfeiture case to be filed at Sandiganbayan vs Coronas

MANILA - The Office of the Ombudsman has found probable cause to charge former Chief Justice Renato Corona and his wife, Cristina, for violation of several laws for amassing over P130 million in unexplained wealth.

In a 22-page Resolution which Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales approved on January 28, 2014, the Ombudsman said Corona's actual cash deposits ballooned from P1,337,072.28 in 2002 to P137,937,207.88 in 2010.

"In sum, the Office of the Ombudsman determined that the Coronas' unexplained wealth is at least P130,336,212.88...The amount of P130,336,212.88 is a conservative estimate as it includes their cost of living allowance commensurate to their social stature and expenses entailed by their travels abroad," the Ombudsman resolution read.

Corona was appointed Supreme Court Associate Justice on April 2002, and then Chief Justice in 2010. He was removed by the Senate impeachment tribunal for failing to fully disclose his assets in his statements of assets, liabilities and net worth (SALN).

The Ombudsman resolution said Corona violated Republic Act No. 1379 and will face eight counts of perjury and eight counts of violation of Section 11 of RA No. 671 or the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials.

A special panel of investigators determined that from 2001 to 2011, the spouses Corona earned a total income of P30,369,120.13, of which P27,145,472.68 was earned by CJ Corona as an official at the Office of the President, a Justice of the Supreme Court, member of the Senate Electoral Tribunal (SET) and member of the House of Representatives Electoral Tribunal (HRET).

Meanwhile, Cristina Corona earned P3,223,647.45 for the period 2007-2010, based on the Alpha List submitted to the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) by the John Hay Development Corporation (JHDC) where Mrs. Corona was employed.

The Resolution stated that from 2002 to 2010, Corona's actual cash deposits ballooned from P1,337,072.28 to P137,937,207.88, and by 2010 the cumulative discrepancy between his Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth (SALN) declaration and his actual cash deposits amounted to P134,437,207.88.

The Resolution also cited the Land Registration Authority (LRA) records on several properties owned by the Corona spouses in Quezon City, Makati City and Fort Bonifacio in Taguig City, which were established to be significantly undervalued by P17,297,145.00.

It pointed out the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) certifications stating that the Corona spouses have no existing business registered in their name, even while CJ Corona's SALN for 2003-2009 disclosed that his wife is connected with the Basa Guidote Enterprises, Inc.

On the charges for perjury, the Resolution found that the sworn declarations in Corona's SALNs were false, as Corona failed to include the following:

- numerous peso and dollar bank accounts (in his 2003-2010 SALNs),
- a condominium unit at the The Columns, Makati City (in his 2004-2009 SALN), and
- a condominium unit at Spanish Bay Tower in Taguig City (in his 2005-2009 SALN).

CJ Corona was found to have only declared P6,800,000.00 as the acquisition cost of a condominium unit in Bellagio I in Taguig City in his SALN for 2010, when the true acquisition cost is P14,510,000.00.

In his SALNs from 2003 to 2009, CJ Corona also undervalued the property located at La Vista in Quezon City by P8,000,000.00.

CJ Corona was also charged with violation of RA 6713, for not filing true and detailed SALNs for 2003-2010, when the value of his declared cash assets and the actual bank deposits had substantial discrepancies and his real assets in Makati, Taguig and Quezon City were not declared.

Ombudsman Morales directed the filing of a petition for forfeiture with the Sandigabayan, along with the sets of criminal informations for Perjury and violation of RA 6713.