US embassy sues NGO over fake receipts

Posted at 09/13/2012 7:46 PM | Updated as of 09/14/2012 3:56 PM

MANILA (UPDATED/CORRECTED)  - The US Embassy in Manila has filed charges of falsification of documents against officials of the non-government organization (NGO) Visayan Forum Foundation (VFF), including the group's president, Maria Cecilia Oebanda.

The National Bureau of Investigation's (NBI) anti-graft division conducted a probe and found out that the VFF, a leading campaigner against human trafficking in the country, gave fraudulent receipts to the embassy that was auditing donations that USAID gave to the group since 2005.

"Most of the receipts turned out to be receipts of a closed company," said Atty. Rachel Marfil-Angeles, head of the NBI's anti-graft division.

The NBI discovered 32 boxes of the falsified receipts inside the office of the Visayan Forum.

The figures on some receipts were deliberately altered to show a different price.

A VFF auditor who recently resigned accused Oebanda of ordering the manipulation of receipts.

"May meeting na nangyari. Inutusan iyung mga bookkeeper, 'O gawan natin ng paraan para ma-fill up iyung gap doon sa kulang na liquidation,'" said Marfil-Angeles.

VFF says top officials not involved

The VFF said it has no knowledge of the faked receipts. The group asks why the NBI is quick to believe its former auditor.

"Ba't ngayon lang siya lumabas ng ganito? Para masalba niya iyung sarili niya, tinuturo niya ngayon iyung mga direktor na walang kinalaman sa kalokohang ginawa nia," said Atty. Laurence Arroyo, lawyer of VFF.

The NBI said it not yet done going through the boxes of fake receipts.

Investigators said the amount that was hidden could reach more than P200 million. - ANC

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Correction: An earlier version of this story said that it was the embassy which found the irregularities in the audit of the USAID donations.

It was the National Bureau of Investigation's anti-graft division, not the US embassy, which found irregularities.

Our apologies to the US embassy.