NBI files syndicated estafa raps vs 17 bank execs

By Florence F. Hibionada/PNS

Criminal charges of Syndicated Estafa have been filed by the National Bureau of Investigation Western Visayas Regional Office 6 (NBI WEVRO 6) against 17 bank personalities of the Rural Bank of Badiangan (Iloilo) Inc.

The charges once upheld, carries no bail for all of the respondents.

With an initial 37 victim-depositors, the NBI WEVRO 6 concluded its probe and established alleged violation of Section 1, Presidential Decree (PD) 1681 in relation to Article 315 (2) (a) of the Revised Penal Code as amended.

At stake are over P13 million in depositors’ money gone missing following the bank’s closure in July of this year. The said amount though is expected to significantly balloon once the rest of the accounting and pending complaints are resolved.

To date, victim-depositors were segregated into three groups coming from Iloilo City and the Municipality of Januiay. Fourth group are Badiangan, Cabatuan and Sta. Barbara-based victim-depositors.

In an official NBI WEVRO 6 press statement, named suspects and charged before the Provincial and City Prosecutor’s offices are former bank manager Samuel Hortelano and current manager Bella Buscar. Also charged are bank Vice President Joby Arandela, bank cashier Helen Rico, bank secretary Egleserio Rebustes and bank member of the board Josefina Arandela.

Likewise charged are “independent directors” Nena Mana-ay and Edgar Llave, current compliance officer Emilda Davoc, former bank secretary Herlyn Heda Salazar, bank clerks Lenie Abordaje, Cynthia Tacanloy, Ma. Cynthia Paula Tacanloy alias “Mar-Mar,” former compliance officer Cres Davoc, account officer Ana Marie Balbasor, security guard Federico Abordaje alias “Idoy” and member of the bank’s board of directors, Aileen Consumo.

The victim-depositors, the statement went, “were all enticed by Bella Buscar….to open an account due to the high interest rates….as well as the assurance that their deposits are insured with the Philippine Deposit Insurance Corporation (PDIC). All of the complainants personally entrusted their money intended for opening a time deposit account to Bella Buscar at her officer in Badiangan, Iloilo or at their respective residences in Iloilo City.”

Certificates of Time Deposit were issued and renewed upon maturity as interests supposedly earned were personally delivered to the victim-depositors’ homes. However when the closure happened in July, the PDIC disclosed that amount as purportedly deposited were never recorded in the master list of depositors.

“All of the complainants were shocked upon learning this since they were under the honest belief that they were depositors……After the denial of their claim, the respective amounts deposited could not be accounted anymore by Bella Buscar and her co-principals, and is now presumed to have been misappropriated for their own personal purpose,” the bureau’s statement continued.

As such, NBI WEVRO 6 probe established “false pretenses and fraudulent acts” by the respondent bank workers “who by their concerted over acts, conspired and confederated with one another.”

“We have more than 5 suspects so it is Syndicated Estafa and yes, no bail recommended,” Regional Director Elfren Meneses Jr. said in an interview. “All of the 17 suspects are to be held equally and solidarily liable.”

The Rural Bank of Badiangan case was handled by NBI lawyer, Investigation Agent II Arnold Diaz.

“Clearly the scheme that became a scam did not happen overnight,” Diaz said.

Meantime, yet another new complainant surfaced over the weekend with a similar story of having been duped of hard-earned family savings.

Retired and having to tend to a sick husband who has fallen ill to Cancer, the 72-year victim is a native of Cabatuan, Iloilo. She is thus far the latest of victims who sought NBI help.

“We lost everything, all of our lifetime of savings from our pension that we entrusted to the bank since 2005,” she said.