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Ex-envoy gets 52 years for malversation

Michael Punongbayan - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - A former ambassador to Nigeria was sentenced to a maximum of 52 years in prison for three counts of malversation of public funds.

The Sandiganbayan found Masaranga Umpa guilty of misusing $80,478.80 or P3.749 million in Assistance-To-Nationals (ATN) standby funds in 2007.

The Office of the Ombudsman said the former assemblyman was meted maximum prison terms of 17 years and four months for each of the three malversation of public funds cases filed against him.

Umpa, ambassador from 1996 to 2008, was also meted the accessory penalty of perpetual disqualification from holding public office and ordered to indemnify the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) the amount he was convicted of misusing.

The Office of the Ombudsman said prosecutors were able to prove that in February 2007, the Philippine embassy in Lagos, Nigeria received $95,856.08 to cover expenses needed for negotiations for the release of 25 kidnapped Filipino seafarers.

In 2008, the DFA created an Internal Audit Service (IAS) Team to conduct a special audit on certain transactions, including ATN standby funds.

During trial, prosecutors presented the results of an independent verification showing that liquidation documents for the transactions were fabricated and that several transactions or expenses Umpa had reported were never incurred.

Of nine transactions, only a total of $15,377.28 were found to be true.

The rest, including supposed rental of mobile escort cars, fees and payment for services of diplomatic policemen; hotel accommodations for police escorts, payment of chartered helicopters and payment of hotel accommodation, among others, were to be found fictitious or questionable. The Sandiganbayan took cognizance of Umpa’s extensive background in accounting and auditing, having been an auditor in the Commission on Audit (COA) for 12 years.         

ASSISTANCE-TO-NATIONALS

DEPARTMENT OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS

FUNDS

INTERNAL AUDIT SERVICE

LAGOS

MASARANGA UMPA

OFFICE OF THE OMBUDSMAN

SANDIGANBAYAN

TRANSACTIONS

UMPA

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