CA clears Pag-IBIG exec of syndicated estafa rap
Edu Punay (The Philippine Star) - October 16, 2013 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - The Court of Appeals (CA) has cleared an official of the Home Development Mutual Fund (Pag-IBIG Fund) accused of conspiring with officials of housing developer Globe Asiatique to grant loans to “ghost borrowers” who alleged bought properties from GA’s housing projects in Pampanga.

In a 21-page decision released Monday, the CA’s Sixth Division stopped the San Fernando City Regional Trial Court Branch 42 from proceeding with the P6.65-billion syndicated estafa case against Pag-IBIG Fund foreclosure manager Alex Alvarez and lifted the arrest warrant issued against him by the lower court on May 22, 2012.

The CA noted that Alvarez was not among those initially charged by Pag-Ibig as one of the perpetrators of the scam and he was only included in the charge upon the recommendation of Senior Deputy Prosecutor Theodore Villanueva.

Alvarez was indicted by the Department of Justice as co-conspirator because he notarized the documents alleged to have been executed by fake buyers of GA.

But the CA, in the ruling penned by Associate Justice Edwin Sorongon, ruled that a notary public does not automatically become a co-conspirator by the mere fact he had notarized the documents used by the principal perpetrator in committing the alleged crime.

Associate Justices Hakim Abdulwahid and Marlene Gonzales-Sison concurred with the ruling.

No more case?

With the dismissal of the complaint against Alvarez, the crime of syndicated estafa may no longer apply against the remaining accused since the law requires at least five accused in a syndicated estafa case.

Among those accused in the case are fugitive GA president Delfin Lee, GA vice president Dexter Lee, accounting head Cristina Salagan and documentation head Christina Sagun.

Last February, the CA’s special 10th Division ordered the dismissal of the charge against Sagun, saying that her duty was ministerial.

The CA said Sagun can only be liable for simple negligence since she was never privy to the use of ghost borrowers and fake documents to obtain over P6.5 billion in loans from Pag-IBIG Fund in 2009.

However, the Supreme Court issued a temporary restraining order to stop the implementation of the CA ruling.

ALEX ALVAREZ ALVAREZ ASSOCIATE JUSTICE EDWIN SORONGON ASSOCIATE JUSTICES HAKIM ABDULWAHID AND MARLENE GONZALES-SISON CHRISTINA SAGUN COURT OF APPEALS CRISTINA SALAGAN DELFIN LEE DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE DEXTER LEE PAG
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