Escudero and Senate banks committee see grounds for probe on Comelec chair's bank accounts

Sen. Chiz Escudero / photo from newsbytes (ctto)

On Sunday, chairman of the Senate committee on banks Senator Chiz Escudero said that he wanted to know whether if allegations against Commission of Elections Chairman Andres Bautista were true, and if banks indeed helped him hide his wealth.

"Maraming katanungan doon. Una, bakit nga ba may 30 bank account ang isang tao... Bakit ang mga deposito ay mababa sa 500,000, kada deposito at na-report ba iyan sa AMLC," Escudero told Super Radyo dzBB.

Chairman Bautista’s wife had revealed more than 30 passbooks of her spouse. Two among the accounts were from two branches of Luzon Development Bank (LDB). Also, Mrs. Bautista’s lawyer pointed out that each accounts had less than P500,000 in it ’to avoid detection’ from the Anti-Money Laundering Council.

Bautista, on the other hand, explained that he kept multiple passbooks because of numerous family investments.

Meanwhile, Escudero argued that since chairman Bautista was a Politically Exposed Person (PEP), the bank is permitted to report the deposits to AMLC even if it is less than P500,000, and that the bank is also in the position to ask how their client acquired the money.

"Under sa Know-Your-Client Rule, may rason, dahilan o karapatan ang bangko tumangging tanggapin ang deposito ng ninuman kung hindi sila kumbinsido na ito ay galing sa legal na pamamaraan," Escudero said.

"Normal at regular 'yun na ginagawa ng mga bangko sa kanilang kliyente, lalo na yung itinatawag nating Politically Exposed Person o PEP." He added.

Escudero also pointed out that due to the poll chief’s case, the committee might be able to figure out whether government officials who had personal relationships with small-bank owners were using these connections to escape AMLC inspection.

"May liability sila sa Bangko Sentral gayundin sa paglabag sa Anti-Money Laundering.  Iyun, 'yun nga yung basehan eh dapat kilala mo man o hindi, dapat inalam mo at may basehan ka san galing 'yung pera," Escudero explained.

Should the committee call for a hearing about this, Escudero said that the chairman likely would be invited.

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