May 14, 2012 · Posted in: General
OMBUDSMAN CONCHITA CARPIO MORALES stunned members of the impeachment court with an account of the apparently massive movement of US dollars among 82 dollar bank accounts allegedly owned by Supreme Court Chief Justice Renato Corona.
Morales, who was presented by the defense panel as a hostile witness, had asked the court for permission to make a powerpoint presentation of the initial findings of the Office of the Ombudsman in an investigation it is conducting with the help of the Anti Money Laundering Council (AMLC) and the Commission on Audit.
The senator-judges put the proposal to a vote, with most of the senator-judges agreeing to allow Morales to make her presentation.
Morales said in her presentation that Corona had steadily built up the number of dollar accounts in his name, from only one dollar account in 2003 to a total of 82 dollar accounts by 2011.
The dollar accounts were spread across several banks, including the Bank of the Philippine Islands, Philippine Savings Bank, Allied Bank, Deutsche Bank, and Citibank. The most number of dollar accounts were held in BPI San Francisco del Monte, where Corona reportedly owns 34 dollar accounts. This is followed by BPI Tandang Sora, where Corona reportedly has 18 dollar accounts.
Morales then began tracing what she called the “circuitous movement of dollars for the main accounts.”
For example, the “mother account” or account number 4005939 in BPI Acropolis saw several significant movements of dollars from other dollar accounts within the same branch, all allegedly owned by Corona.
In April 2004, a month before the Presidential elections, $162,000 was deposited to the dollar account from another dollar account in the same bank. On the same day, $390,000 was withdrawn from the mother account and then deposited to another dollar account in the same bank.
On May 6, 2004, another $390,000 was deposited to the mother account. Several other movements were recorded to and from the same mother account, with $ 500,000 being deposited to the mother account on May 12, 2004, or just two days after the elections.
For one account alone in BPI Tandang Sora, which Morales called the “mother account” because most of the other transactions revolved around it, dollar account 1842 had a series of infusions or withdrawals with a minimum movement of $10,000 at a time. Some of the withdrawals and deposits were made just two days apart, and sometimes, on the same day itself.
For the so-called mother account in BPI San Francisco del Monte branch, Morales said account number 8104 was infused with five dollar deposits in a matter of days in May 2007, the biggest being $48,000. The pattern continued well into 2007 for the same account, with a withdrawal of $63,000 in February 2007, another withdrawal of $53,000 in January 2007, and a withdrawal of $129,000 in July 2007.
Morales said it appeared that all the transactions were done by Corona himself.
“All appear to have been made by a Renato Corona, Renato C. Corona, or Renato Coronado Corona,” Morales told the impeachment court.
Morales added that all the data she was presenting to the court was “sourced from the database of the AMLC.” She said that she had personally prepared the powerpoint presentation she made before the impeachment court with assistance from the Commission on Audit. Asked why she had sought COA’s help, Morales said that she was a lawyer, and needed assistance from accountants.
“I wanted to see if my observations were correct,” she said.
At the same time Morales clarified that she is not saying that the alleged Corona accounts had an aggregate value of $10 million. Morales said she had cited $10 million as the “aggregate transactional value” of the accounts, and not the final value or balance.