SENATOR Grace Poe castigated officials of Luzon Development Bank for not raising a “red flag” on the deposit of Commission on Elections Chairman Andres Bautista considering that the poll body chief is a “politically exposed person.”
Bautista being the Comelec chief, LDB should have given the Anti Money Laundering Council a red signal on his bank transactions.
At the same time, Poe said she could not see the point why senators cannot mention the name of Comelec Chairman Bautista in the ongoing hearing of the Commission on Banks, Financial Institution and Currencies chaired by Sen. Francis Chiz Escudero.
“Why should we not mention the name of Comelec Chair Bautista and his possible violations? I suggest that he face the Senate hearing so he can explain his side on this issue personally,” Poe said during the hearing as she urged Bautista to face the Senate hearing.
Earlier, Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon said the Senate probe might compromise the position of the Senators who will be senator-judge to the case of Comelec Chair Bautista.
Senator Escudero appealed to Bautista and his relatives to sign a waiver to give way to a full disclosure of his bank deposits without Luzon Development Bank officials incurring a liability.
The call was made after members of the Committee on Bank, Financial Institutions and Currencies failed to get any information regarding the supposed bank accounts of Bautista.
Officials from the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, Anti-Money Laundering Council and LDP appeared at the hearing called yesterday by Escudero who heads the committee.
Bautista and his estranged wife, Patricia, were not in the hearing but the latter was represented by her legal counsel, Atty. Lorna Kapunan.
Escudero said the bank secrecy law is a big obstacle to the investigation.
Strict bank secrecy laws prevented the resource persons from the LDB from confirming whether the thirty-five passbooks produced by Bautista’s estranged wife Patricia belonged to the Comelec Chair, citing the need for the bank to follow the relevant laws.
LDB’s president David Sarmiento reiterated that LDB has complied with its duty to file suspicious transaction reports or STRs regarding deposits, and that it strictly follows all necessary procedures when it comes to the opening of accounts by politically exposed persons, their immediate family and close associates.
Officials from the AMLC and the BSP were likewise prohibited by existing laws to provide details about any and all reports made by LDB in the course of its compliance with the reporting mechanism for suspicious transactions.
According to LDB, it has consistently passed the BSP annual audit and has garnered a CAMELS rating of 3 (4 being the highest).
CAMELS is an acronym for capital adequacy, asset quality, management, earnings, liquidity, and sensitivity, and is an internationally recognized rating system used to assess the financial and overall fitness of banking institutions.
The LDB has assured the committee that it has religiously complied with its reportorial duties under the Anti-Money Laundering Act.