After the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) junked their complaint against the officials of the Rizal Commercial Banking Corporation (RCBC), the Inang Nag-Aaruga sa Anak Foundation recently filed a Petition for Review at the Court of Appeals (CA).
The complaint for unsafe and unsound banking practices was against not only RCBC President and Chief Executive Officer Eugene S. Acevedo, but all current and former members of the bank’s board of directors, and a now-dismissed branch manager named Liza Arzaga.
According to the complaint, Arzaga, who was then the branch manager of RCBC, advised that the complainants’ funds be put in various investment products under RCBC and its sister-companies Malayan Leasing and Grepalife. The complainants agreed and trusted the Bank, through its branch manager Arzaga, that their funds would be invested in a multitude of investment plans. They also claimed that the documents were offered, signed and processed within the premises of RCBC’s Garnet Road branch, of which Arzaga was the manager.
But it was soon revealed that the funds were not put in any plan, Arzaga instead gave the complainants fake documents and supposedly ran off with the monies.The claimed fraud was discovered sometime in 2018 when Arzaga was requested by a bank customer to transfer over PhP 37 million from one account to a checking account. Despite the presentation by Arzaga of machine validated deposit and withdrawal slips evidencing the transfer of funds, the amount was never received and transferred to the checking account and vanished together with Arzaga.
However, the BSP, in two separate resolutions issued on August 20 and October 22, 2021, dismissed the complaints on the reason that there is no basis for the complainants to chase after the bank’s officials for the money that was lost. The BSP instead referred the matter for further investigation by its Financial Services Department on the bank’s liability as a corporate entity.
Appellants argue that “it is well settled under our banking laws and rules that banks and its directors and officers owe a fiduciary duty towards their clients, which fiduciary duty is the very cornerstone of our banking system.” “Accordingly, banks and its directors and officers are strictly mandated to treat their clients’ deposits and investments with meticulous care, and discharge their functions in a manner consistent with “high standards of integrity and performance,” in all their dealings with the latter,” it continued.
The complainants’ petition to the CA is to overturn the BSP’s resolutions and to hold RCBC’s executives liable for allowing Arzaga to perpetuate the alleged fraud, arguing: “It is for this reason that Petitioners now come before this court to seek the strict enforcement of our banking laws and rules for the protection and redress of the Petitioners and other RCBC bank customers who have suffered great damage due to the fraudulent acts which [the RCBC officers] have perpetrated and/or allowed to be perpetrated within bank premises.” The foundation’s lawyers argue that the bank’s safeguards for their client’s money are so weak that fraud can easily be committed by their bank officials. They are encouraging other victims to come forward and speak out.
The Inang Nag-Aaruga sa Anak Foundation is a non-stock, non-profit organization whose mission is to provide financial, social and psychological support to mothers belonging to the economically depressed and socially underprivileged sectors of society. It was founded by Gina De Venecia after her daughter, Maria Kristina Casimira De Venecia, passed away in 2004. The insurance money collected from the latter’s death served as the foundation’s starting funds.
Through the years, the foundation has provided grief counseling seminars and relief operations for victims of natural calamities, including the victims of typhoon Yolanda in Tacloban.
Image courtesy of Dojo Palines