BDO seeks Sandigan help on P1.1-B Velarde account
Rosalinda L. Orosa (The Philippine Star) - April 24, 2008 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines – Who should get the P1.1 billion in the Jose Velarde account?

Lawyers of Banco de Oro (BDO), where the money is deposited, asked the Sandiganbayan yesterday to clarify its Sept. 12, 2007 order to forfeit in favor of the government the amount that it has identified as belonging to ousted President Joseph Estrada.

Lawyers Carlos Buenaventura and Corazon Leynes Xavier said BDO is not a party in the plunder case against Estrada.

“It has no claim or legal interest whatsoever (in the account),” the lawyers said.

“Prompted by caution and prudence, the bank seeks the guidance of the Honorable Court on how to further proceed with the disposition of the subject IMA account in view of the prior lien of the BIR and the claim of the Wellex Group Inc.

“The bank is uncertain as to the status, effects and consequence of the BIR distraint on the IMA (investment management account) account vis-à-vis the notice of garnishment of September 2002 and cannot determine without hazard to itself to which office it shall deliver the assets of the IMA account at the opportune time.”

The Jose Velarde account consists of collateral shares and trust investment entrusted to the bank as security for a P500-million loan drawn by businessman William Gatchalian.

Estrada said businessman Jaime Dichaves owns the Velarde account, which the Bureau of Internal Revenue has frozen.

In a letter dated Jan. 21, 2008, lawyer Lamberto Mercado said the Gatchalian-owned Wellex Group Inc. has already paid the P500-million loan “directly to the owner of the account.”

However, Mercado did not disclose the identity of the account owner.

“The loan obligation has apparently been extinguished,” he said.  – Edu Punay

ACCOUNT BUREAU OF INTERNAL REVENUE EDU PUNAY HONORABLE COURT JAIME DICHAVES JOSE VELARDE LAMBERTO MERCADO WELLEX GROUP INC
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