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‘Chiz’ keen on probing Bautista over wealth

  • Written by Camille P. Balagtas
  • Published in Top Stories
  • Read: 336

SENATOR Francis “Chiz” Escudero, who chairs the Senate committee on banks, Financial Institutions, and Currencies, yesterday said there is sufficient ground to investigate
Commission on Elections Chairman Andres Bautista adding he would ask the Comelec chief to shed light on the issues against him.

Escudero had met with the estranged wife of Commission on Elections Chairman Andres Bautista, Patricia, who also went to see Sen.Grace Poe yesterday accompanied by her lawyer Lorna Kapunan.

Patricia had reportedly earlier said she would use all avenues to have the questionable wealth of her husband investigated.

The Lower House in a unanimous decision junked the impeachment complaint against Comelec chief Bautista which included allegations of nearly a billion pesos worth of ill-gotten wealth.

Escudero said it is interesting to know whether the alleged ill-gotten wealth of the Comelec chairman is true and whether banks helped him hide the money.

“Sobrang nakapagtataka na ang isang tao na tulad ni Chairman Bautista ay may 30 bank accounts na hindi bababa sa P500,000 kada deposito. Gusto rin natin marinig ang reaksyon dito ng Anti Money Laundering Council,” Escudero said.
    
Patricia had revealed that her husband had several passbooks from two branches of the Luzon Development Bank.  Furthermore, Mrs. Bautista pointed out that the account of the Comelec chairman had less than P500,000 in them to avoid detection from the AMLC.
    
The Comelec Chair for his part said he is willing to tell all as he explained that he kept multiple passbooks because his family had numerous investments.
    
However, Escudero argued that because Bautista was a politically exposed person or PEP, the bank was entitled to report the deposits to the AMLC even if the accounts had less than P500,000 in them.
    
Escudero said LDB, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, and the AMLC will also be invited to shed light on the issue.
    
Earlier, Patricia filed a disbarment complaint against Atty. Nilo Divina and 20 others in the Divina Law firm before the Supreme Court saying she had in her possession the pay slips of the commission paid by the law firm to her husband. She said it was proof that there was an anomaly and accused the respondents of violation of the Code of Professional Responsibility.
    
Mrs. Bautista did not include her husband in her complaint citing the fact that he is immune from suit as he is an impeachable official.
    
Lawyer Kapunan earlier said the disbarment case against Atty. Divina is based on her client’s allegations that the Comelec chief received referral fees from the Divina Law Firm which has Smartmatic as one of their clients.