A different Legacy

NOBODY knows for sure how much money Speaker Prospero Nograles lost when he invested in at least one of the 12 banks under the collapsed Legacy Group of Companies.

One thing is certain: Nograles had admitted he lost money in Legacy.

Testifying before the congressional hearings on his company in early 2009, Legacy owner Eduardo de los Angeles Jr. said the Speaker himself had invested P18 million to P20 million in the Rural Bank of DARCBI’s “buy-back, double your money schemes.”

Whether the Speaker was victim first and last is a matter for deeper investigation. News reports on the hearings established clearly though that Karlo Alexi Nograles, his son and chief of staff at the House of Representatives, had entered his appearance as a lawyer of the Legacy-controlled rural bank.

Karlo Alexi recently won as congressman of the first district of Davao City and will take the seat to be vacated by his father in the 15th Congress next month.

A lawyer like his father, Karlo Alexi was “confirmed” by the rural bank’s board of directors as their lawyer, according to the minutes of the July 27, 2007 meeting of the board. Karlo took on the job with an acceptance fee of P50,000.

Meanwhile, the Speaker himself would only go as far as acknowledging de los Angeles as member of the administration Lakas-Kampi-CMD party, of which Nograles is a ranking official. In a special report on the Legacy scam, the Philippine Daily Inquirer quotes Nograles as confirming his acquaintance with de los Angeles: He is a Lakas party member, and he handles our people in Albay. How could I not know him?”

Also last year, Ricardo Tan claimed that in 2005, when he was still president of the Philippine Deposit Insurance Corporation (PDIC), then House Majority Leader Nograles had asked him to go slow on Legacy because de los Angeles allegedly helped Noli de Castro in the 2004 vice presidential race.

(PDIC is now headed by Jose C. Nograles, the Speaker’s brother who had earlier served as vice president of the Land Bank of the Philippines.)

Yet at the height of the Legacy controversy last year, Nograles said, “I’m still trying to recover 40 percent of my capital. I’m no friend of Celso de los Angeles. If I am, I would have recovered my money.”

In March 2009, the House approved on third and final reading House Bill No. 5911 principally authored by the Speaker.  The measure became Republic Act 9576 after it was signed into law by President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo on April 29, 2009.

It amended the PDIC Charter by doubling the insurance coverage of depositors to P500,000 to shield them from any bank closures.  – PCIJ, June 2010