Sandiganbayan finds P1-B Jose Velarde account

- Jose Rodel Clapano, Sandy Araneta () - January 11, 2008 - 12:00am

The Sandiganbayan sheriff has found more than P1.107 billion in cash and assets in another “Jose Velarde” account at Banco de Oro.

Banco de Oro has acquired Equitable PCI Bank, where the “Jose Velarde” account was originally kept.

Reporting to the Sandiganbayan special division, Sheriff Edgardo Urieta said the assets are kept in a personal Investment Management Account (IMA) under Trust Account No. 101-78056-1.

“We are moving silently while recovering the assets,” Urieta said. He declined to give additional information because the special division had stopped him from giving out information.

In 2001, Internal Revenue Deputy Commissioner Lilian Hefti identified the “Jose Velarde” account as “part of the assets of Joseph Ejercito Estrada also known as Jose Velarde and Kelvin Garcia.”

However, ousted President Joseph Estrada said yesterday that he did not own the alleged P1 billion kept at Banco de Oro.

In a telephone interview with The STAR, Estrada said reports that he owned the funds were “merely a spin” of Special Prosecutor Dennis Villa-Ignacio and Urieta.

“I did not own them,” he said.

“I am not claiming ownership of that. I have nothing to do with it, and they are free to get it anytime. That fund, which I don’t believe reached P1 billion, was the collateral used by William Gatchalian to get credit in the Equitable PCI Bank.

“They found it in Banco de Oro because it is the one that bought Equitable PCI Bank.”

Estrada said a trust fund amounting to P500 million was opened at the defunct Equitable PCI Bank to accommodate the loan of plastics magnate William Gatchalian on Feb. 4, 2000.

“That was the (P500 million) collateral of Gatchalian when he was trying to get a loan from Equitable PCI Bank,” he said. “Villa-Ignacio and Urieta are fools.”

Estrada has maintained during his trial and until now that he is not Jose Velarde.

Urieta said the following assets in the “Jose Velarde” account would be forfeited in favor of the government:

• Promissory note and Chattel Mortgage worth P500 million;

• 450 million shares of stocks of Waterfront Philippines worth about P427.5 million (based on recent prevailing price of P0.95 per share); and

• 300 million shares of stocks of Wellex Industries worth about P84 million (at recent prevailing price of P0.28 per share).

The account also has cash deposits in a “common trust fund investment” worth P95,759,000 which will mature on July 25, 2008, he added.

Urieta said the total amount in the stock investments and trust deposits is estimated at P1.10726 billion.

“This office is now in the process of consultation with Banco de Oro officials regarding the course of action in the delivery or selling at public auction of the shares of stocks of the IMA Trust Account No. 101-78056-1 in order to satisfy the amount of One Hundred Eighty Nine Million Seven Hundred Thousand Pesos (P189,700,000) as stated in the Writ of Execution in the Jose Velarde Account,” read Urieta’s report to the special division.

Lawyer Gerardo Banzon, head Legal Advisory and Research Department, Legal Services Division of Banco de Oro, assured Urieta that the “Jose Velarde” account was intact.

Nobody touched the assets because of a constructive restraint order imposed by Hefti on Jan. 29, 2001, he added.

In the same report, Urieta said the Commission on Audit had informed him that the title of the Boracay mansion in New Manila, Quezon City has major discrepancies.

Other important documents are needed and the change of technical description of the TCT of the Boracay mansion is also needed for the exact appraisal or valuation of the property, according to the COA.

Rasol Mitmug, director of technical services at COA, suggested that Urieta write a letter to Administrator Benedicto Ulep of the Land Registration Authority for the approved subdivision plan with complete description of the title of the Boracay mansion so proper appraisal and valuation could be made.

On Jan. 9, 2008, the Sheriff’s Office wrote to Ulep, requesting for the other needed documents regarding the complete technical description of the Boracay mansion’s title.

On the same day, the Sheriff’s Office received a letter from Quezon City Mayor Feliciano Belmonte Jr., by way of supplement to the letter dated Dec. 6, 2007 of Quezon City Treasurer Victor Endriga, relative to the Quezon City government’s claim of ownership over the Boracay mansion.

The city government had asked the Sheriff’s Office to void the levy on one of the Boracay mansion’s titles.

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