Ombudsman denies Corona appeal on 'ill-gotten' wealth case

Posted at 03/26/14 5:29 PM

MANILA -- The Office of the Ombudsman denied the motion for reconsideration filed by former Chief Justice Renato Corona and his wife, Cristina, in connection with their ill-gotten wealth case.

In a 15-page Joint Order signed Wednesday, Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales directed the immediate filing of a petition for forfeiture before the Sandiganbayan against the Corona couple, along with 8 counts of perjury and 8 counts of violation of Republic Act 6713 or the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees.

The Corona couple is accused of illegally amassing over P130 million worth of assets.

Corona, who became Supreme Court Chief Justice in 2010, was removed by the Senate impeachment tribunal in 2012 for failing to fully disclose his assets in his Statements of Assets, Liabilities and Net worth (SALN).

A special panel of investigators determined that from 2001 to 2011, the Corona couple 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, Mrs. Corona earned P3,223,647.45 for the period 2007 to 2010, based on the Alpha List submitted to the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) by the John Hay Development Corporation (JHDC) where she 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 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 couple in Quezon City, Makati City and Fort Bonifacio in Taguig City, which were established to be significantly undervalued by P17,297,145.00.

The Ombudsman determined that the Coronas' unexplained wealth is at least P130,336,212.88.

On the charges for perjury, the Resolution found that the sworn declarations in Corona's SALNs were false, as he failed to include the numerous peso and dollar bank accounts in his 2003 to 2010 SALNs, a condominium unit at the The Columns, Makati City in his 2004 to 2009 SALNs, and a condominium unit at Spanish Bay Tower in Taguig City in his 2005 to 2009 SALNs.
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, Corona also undervalued the property located at La Vista in Quezon City by P8,000,000.00.

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.

Corona, for his part, claimed that his case was "not ill-gotten wealth. The charge is unexplained wealth."

He said he will give his full statement on Thursday. -- With reports from Ina Reformina, ABS-CBN News