Monday, June 11, 2007

Extort group irritates BSP

A senior official of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas has expressed disgust over the statements issued to media by an alleged extortion group preying on banks.

The official, who requested anonymity, said in an interview the extortion group, uncovered by the National Bureau of Investigation, is falsely using the name of the BSP to harass its prospective victims.

“Anybody may file a complaint at the BSP against a bank, but what is irregular is that the alleged extortionists would now use the complaint to threaten their victims to give in to their demands or they would publicize their complaint, regardless if the complaint would hold water or not,” said the official.

The official was referring to an article published last Saturday, wherein former banker Honorio C. Bulos, who was blacklisted by the BSP for banking violations, issued a statement allegedly in an attempt to destroy the image of the Rural Bank of ParaƱaque.

“How can anyone in his right mind do that? A bank is a public trust and it thrives on its image and confidence of the depositors. If anyone has an axe to grind, he or she better use the courts and not just drag the name of the BSP and a banking institution for their personal squabbles,” the official said.

“We are extra cautious in accepting complaints at the BSP so as to protect establishments from opportunists, poseurs and extortionists,” the official added.

The news item also quoted lawyer Felipe Arcilla, allegedly a member of the extortion group, saying the BSP has no jurisdiction over the extension of a bank’s corporate life.

“That man should review his law books or should shift professions,” the BSP official said. “By golly! We are talking of extending the life of a bank, by legal and common sense the BSP should be involved.”

The extortion group’s members reportedly include Victor Fortuna, who was arrested in an entrapment by the NBI for extortion and grave threats, as well as Shahara Abdullah and lawyer Ramon Dino, who were issued warrants of arrest for extortion and libel by Branches 88 and 213 of RTC Quezon City and Mandaluyong, respectively.

The supposed extortion gang is allegedly demanding millions of pesos from RBOP and spreading false information that its corporate life has expired.

“We (BSP) have just given the subject bank a certificate of authority to extend its corporate life for another 50 years last April 30. What do people expect? Of course, everything has to undergo a process,” the official added.


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