Two Negrenses recently accused by the Department of Finance in connection with the alleged illegal acquisition of an ailing bank by the Local Water Utilities Administration, yesterday maintained that their actions were above board.
The DOF announced on its website that it had filed a complaint before the Justice department against former LWUA trustee Enrique Senen Montilla III – a former Negros Occidental Board Member, and Aurelio Puentevella of Bacolod and a brother of former Bacolod Rep. Monico Puentevella.
The two others named in the complaint are LWUA trustee Eduardo Bangayan and Wilfredo Feleo, former LWUA Acting Administrator for Finance.
Puentevella told the DAILY STAR he was a LWUA trustee from November 2009 to February 2010.
He was a member of the LWUA board when it passed a resolution to give their Chairman Prospero Pichay Jr. the authority to negotiate for the acquisition of the bank, Puentevella said. However, his term as a trustee ended three months later and he was no longer part of the board when LWUA consummated the acquisition of the bank, he added.
Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima, in announcing the filing of charges against the four, said “We just garnered the pieces of evidence against these people so the case against them was just filed now.”
The DOF complaint said that the respondents “did not first seek the required prior approval from the Monetary Board (MB) despite the clear reminders for them to do so” before they “passed and approved” the acquisition of Express Savings Bank Inc. (EXSBI) in Cabuyao, Laguna in 2008 to develop a “wholly owned subsidiary” called the Water Development Bank.
Section X126.2 of the Manual Regulations for Banks states that any sale or transfer of shares that will result in “ownership of more than 20 percent of the voting stock of a bank” shall be undertaken with “prior approval of the Monetary Board,” the DOF said
As a result of this violation, the respondents were also charged with violating Section 36 of RA 7653 that punishes those that “willfully violate this Act or other pertinent banking laws being enforced or implemented by the Bangko Sentral or any order, instruction, rule or regulations issued by the Monetary Board,” it added
The first complaint the department filed last April, accused LWUA chairman Pichay and trustees Renato Velasco, Susana Vargas, Bonifacio Maria Peña, and Daniel I. Landingin of irregularly purchasing a total of 445,337 shares of stock, corresponding to 60 percent of EXSBI’s total shares for P80 million.
Thereafter, LWUA spent another P400 million to infuse fresh capital in the bank, and deposited another P300 million as savings deposits in 2009, the DOF said.
Peña, who is also from Bacolod, denied any wrongdoing and is seeking his exclusion from the charges.*CPG