SC reopens graft case vs DBP execs


THE SUPREME COURT (SC) has reinstated a graft case against ex-officials of the Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP) over P660 million in purported behest loans extended to the company of a renowned businessman.

The SC Second Division reversed the Sandiganbayan’s 2014 decision, saying the dismissal of the case was improper and that the case should be tried on its merits.

The SC ruled that the Sandiganbayan gravely erred in using the “undeniable fact” that Delta Ventures Resources, Inc. (DVRI) had already fully paid the loans it got from the bank as a reason to re-examine the evidence on record and conclude that there was no evidence of bad faith and manifest partiality, and giving of unwarranted benefits.

“The Court finds that the Sandiganbayan’s dismissal was improper as the standard of clear lack of probable cause was not observed,” the 20-page decision penned by Associate Justice Antonio T. Kho, Jr. released on June 11 read.

In an emailed response to BusinessWorld, the bank said they would continue to respect the judicial process but would not give any comments as the officials responding to the case are not affiliated with them anymore.

The DBP officials named in the case are accused of granting two loans totaling P660 million to DVRI despite it being allegedly unqualified. The loans granted only months apart in 2009 allegedly involved unwarranted waivers to favor a company’s general manager in 2009.

In 2014, the Sandiganbayan granted the motion to quash the case and junk the charges, citing that DVRI had fully paid its loans to DBP and that the loans were not behest in nature.

The High Court said the Sandiganbayan’s re-examination of the evidence when it ruled on the motion to quash was unwarranted because it determined probable cause earlier, even issuing warrants against the accused.

It added that even though DVRI paid its loans, it does not necessarily mean the loans were not behest.

“It is only after a full-blown trial on the merits when the Sandiganbayan will be in a proper position to determine, the presence or absence of the elements of the crime charged. Since the same could not be definitively established at this point, it was highly improper for the Sandiganbayan to order the dismissal of the Criminal Case,” the decision read. — Chloe Mari A. Hufana

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