Vitangcol to undergo Ombudsman probe over extort raps

Posted at 06/24/14 5:10 PM

MANILA - Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales found basis to push through with the preliminary investigation and administrative adjudication against former Metro Rail Transit 3 (MRT-3) General Manager Al Vitangcol III over the alleged extortion incident for the supply of MRT coaches.

Morales also wants businessman Wilson De Vera included in the probe. De Vera is the incorporator of the company that eventually won the contract.

Both are facing criminal charges for violations of Section 3 (b) of Republic Act No. 3019 (Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act) and Section 7(d) of Republic Act No. 6713 (Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees).

Vitangcol also faces administrative charges for Dishonesty, Grave Misconduct and Conduct Prejudicial to the Best Interest of the Service.

The Field Investigation Office (FIO) of the Office of the Ombudsman, which initiated a fact-finding investigation in 2013, alleged Vitangcol requested a dinner with representatives of Czech Republic-based firm Inekon Corp. at a restaurant in Makati on July 9, 2012.

In attendance were De Vera, Czech Republic Ambassador Josef Rychtar, and Inekon Group representatives Josef Husek (Chief Executive Officer), Manalo Maralit (acting as liaison officer for Inekon), and a certain Haluon.

Maralit supposedly told the Inekon officials that Vitangcol wanted to discuss further the project.

That same night, the group, with the exception of Vitangcol, went to Rychtar’s house in Makati.

There, De Vera allegedly told the Inekon officials that the firm would be selected as the supplier of the tram vehicles on the condition that the latter would pay US$30 million.

The amount was allegedly reduced later to US$2.5 million.

The FIO claimed that Vitangcol finally met with the Inekon officials the following day at his office. Vitangcol allegedly asked the officials if they were willing to accept De Vera’s proposal.

The Inekon officials refused. Later, Rychtar would come out in media to cry bribery.

The news triggered the Ombudsman to group the FIO to investigate the matter. A similar probe was also initiated in Congress.

The Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) fired last May Vitangcol over another issue linking him to the award of a maintenance contract to a firm where the uncle of his wife used to be an incorporator.

The Ombudsman has already ordered a separate investigation into the circumstances behind the award to PH TRAMS Corporation.