Saturday, January 14, 2012

News Update P114-M PhilHealth premiums stolen by syndicate – report

A syndicate that hacked into the system of Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) was able to cart away P114 million in premium payments of 22,000 employees of business process outsourcing company Accenture Inc. According to a report on GMA News “24 Oras” Friday, initial investigation showed that Accenture issued checks to PhilHealth to pay for the insurance premiums of its employees. The amount appeared on the agency's database, but was later revealed through accounting that the premiums were never actually remitted to PhilHealth. Further investigation showed that the receipts issued to PhilHealth were counterfeit, and that the checks were encashed in two Metrobank branches in Batangas. “Payments were diverted, we never received a check. Apparently, fake O.R.s were provided,” said PhilHealth president and CEO Dr. Eduardo Banzon. “Within PhilHealth, there are people — and of course the investigation is still ongoing — who actually manipulated the database to make it appear na bayad,” Banzon noted. “Among other things I think that the O.R number [had 9 digits], and we only have 8,” he added. Suspects work for Accenture, Metrobank The National Bureau of Investigation and the Anti-Money Laundering Council are spearheading the investigation, and PhilHealth has hired IT experts to assist them. PhilHealth has already suspended five officials and staff from its Information Technology Department who could be part of the scam. Metrobank said they found a former employee to be involved in the heist. “The bank has identified a former employee as a suspect in the scam and has accordingly notified the proper authorities. Rest assured the bank is actively engaged with PhilHealth and the proper authorities to investigate the matter,” according to a Metrobank statement. Meanwhile, Accenture assured their cooperation in the investigation. “The NBI has been provided with copies of the official receipts covering Accenture’s payments and the manager’s checks which have been cleared and encashed by the collecting bank,” said Accenture country marketing and communications lead Louise Sabariaga. PhilHealth assured the members that their benefits will not be affected by what happened to Accenture. The government-owned and controlled- company was established under Republic Act 7875 or the National Health Insurance Act of 1995 to provide members with healthcare benefits. — Amanda Lago/VS