ARROYO DECLARES LANDBANK WHISTLE-BLOWER A SUSPECT
Malacanang, August 16, 2002 (STAR) By Marichu Villanueva and Delon Porcalla - President Arroyo, seemingly displeased by sharp criticism that she wrongfully tagged as suspect Land Bank of the Philippines (LBP) cashier Acsa Ramirez, felt vindicated yesterday and declared that Ramirez was indeed a suspect after all.
Virtually acting as if she were the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), the President said, "Let me just clarify what I read in the newspapers that she (Acsa) is a whistle-blower. She did not blow the whistle. She reported a totally unrelated crank account from a crank trying to open a P26-billion account."
Mrs. Arroyo narrated that NBI Director Reynaldo Wycoco "said we should give her a medal for reporting a crank account. But it is totally separate from the tax scam where there is no record of her having reported what she should have."
The President made the clarification after a closed-door meeting yesterday at the Department of Justice (DOJ) office where she discussed cases related to the LBP tax diversion scam and smuggling that have been filed by state prosecutors under Justice Secretary Hernando Perez.
Mrs. Arroyo said that Ramirez was clearly indicated by a report of the NBI as having violated the AMLL for not reporting the opening of a bank account worth more than P4 million.
She said that Ramirez complied with the reportorial requirement of the AMLL in the case of the P26-billion account opening.
Last week, Ramirez bitterly complained after the NBI and President Arroyo pictured her as a suspect in the P203-million tax diversion scam.
Ramirez insisted her disclosure led to the discovery of the P203-million tax fraud and the arrest and filing of charges against Land Bank Binangonan branch manager Artemio San Juan, who faces 17 counts of violation of the Anti-Money Laundering Law (AMLL).
The NBI has said that Ramirez was charged with 11 counts of violating the AMLL, while her predecessor, Ramon Joven, faced six similar charges before the Department of Justice.
An NBI investigation uncovered the failure of Ramirez and Joven to report to the Anti-Money Laundering Council deposits at the LandBank Binangonan branch amounting to P203 million from 1999 to June 2002. The deposits were found out to be part of the tax diversion scam in that LandBank branch.
The P203 million account, which used three fictitious names, turned out to belong to San Juan, the boss of Ramirez in LBP Binangonan branch.
President Arroyo announced the filing of charges against San Juan before the Binangonan Regional Trial Court for alleged money-laundering.
Meanwhile, NBI investigators have identified the identities of individuals who had benefited from the P203-million tax scam, and that the accounts have been frozen.
Elfren Meneses, chief of the NBI-Anti-Fraud and Computer Crimes Division, said they have traced the accounts through documents provided to them by the Anti-Money Laundering Council.
The Anti-Money Laundering Law took effect in October 2001, with the aim of preventing criminal syndicates from laundering money gained through illegal activities, including kidnap for ransom, bank robbery, illegal drug trafficking, illegal gambling and other criminal activities. – With reports from Cecille Suerte Felipe
Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi
2002 by PHILIPPINE HEADLINE NEWS
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