NILA, Philippines - An anti-money laundering specialist of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) pointed to Philippine Savings Bank (PSBank) officials as the ones who could have possibly leaked the signature cards of Chief Justice Renato Corona, which led to the disclosure of his multimillion-peso accounts in the impeachment court.
“From the start, I have been consistent that I neither requested nor received a copy of the signature card pertaining to the account of the Chief Justice,” Jerry Leal reiterated in his 21-page letter-affidavit explaining why he should not be cited in contempt by the Senate sitting as an impeachment court.
Leal said it was not established that he had a copy of the signature card of the Chief Justice or “that I have accessed such deposit account information.”
He slammed the testimonies of PSBank president Pascual Garcia III that he said were based on hearsay, “since he does not have personal knowledge on the issue and his allegations are bare, not being supported by documentary proof.”
Leal added that PSBank Katipunan branch manager Annabelle Tiongson and head of internal audit Emma Co, being officers of the bank, also lacked credibility since their testimonies were hearsay.
“Nobody can dispute that they naturally would not want their bank to be, one way or another, put in a bad light,” he said, noting that Tiongson showed uncertainty when asked who personally tagged the Chief Justice as a politically exposed person (PEP).
Leal added that Garcia’s statements were “unreliable, being generic, vague and inconsistent.”
He said it was also Garcia who insisted that the alleged bank signature card of the Chief Justice was “spurious or fake.”
“I humbly submit that I did not lie to the honorable committee. If there were matters that I was not able to adequately explain, I beg the honorable senators to consider this submission. I have no motive to lie,” he said.
“I cannot take in my conscience to tarnish his reputation and that of the BSP,” he added.
‘Just doing my job’
Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile caused the citation of contempt of Leal last March 1 during the separate hearing conducted by the Senate committee on banks, financial institutions and currencies chaired by Sen. Sergio Osmeña III.
Leal admitted he was part of the BSP team that conducted the regular examination of PSBank at its head office in Makati City from Oct. 21 to Dec. 6, 2010.
He said he never met Garcia during the on-site anti-money laundering examination of the PSBank head office or the one-day AML visit at the bank’s Binondo branch in Manila.
He said a certain Grace de la Cruz volunteered information that Corona had won in the bank’s raffle.
De la Cruz, a member of the PSBank’s compliance office, was one of those Leal conferred with during the course of the BSP audit.
Leal said it was only upon learning that Corona was a PSBank depositor that he checked the initial batch of 16 accounts already listed or tagged as PEP.
“It was then when I noted that the Chief Justice was not included in the PEP list,” Leal’s affidavit read.
Toward the end of the anti-money laundering examination, Leal said he noted the failure of PSBank to tag or list three deposit accounts included in the 112 sample accounts as “politically exposed persons.”
He added in his affidavit that he did not visit “at any time” the PSBank Katipunan branch “nor have I met any PSBank officer by the name of Annabelle Tiongson during the course of the AML examination of PSBank.”
He said the PSBank sent “machine copies” of the signature cards of two PEP accounts on Dec. 13, 2010 to the BSP as part of their formal bank-wide reply to the advance findings.
He said it was during that time he saw the printed screenshots of the customer information cards (CIFs) for the four accounts, which included that of the Chief Justice, presented during the exit conference.
Leal said he was merely doing his job to determine PSBank’s overall compliance with requirements of the Anti-Money Laundering Law, as amended, and its revised implementing rules and regulations. - By Christina Mendez