Legal Charges Against BankWise Executives
THE Supreme Court cleared two bank executives of criminal charges because it took more than 10 years for the Department of Justice (DoJ) to issue a resolution.
In a 16-page decision drafted by Associate Judge Amy Lazaro-Javier, the Second Division of the High Court overturned several charges against Vicente Campa Jr. and Perfecto Pascua, respectively former vice president and vice president of the now defunct BankWise. Inc., on the grounds of undue delay as it found that the trial court had acted in a serious abuse of power by dismissing the applicants’ requests.
The court agreed with Campa and Pascua that the DoJ was guilty of undue delay in releasing its resolution dated February 8, 2019, 10 years and five months from the filing of the complaint.
On September 12, 2007, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas filed a complaint with the DoJ against the officers of BankWise, Inc., including the petitioners, for violating, among other things, Monetary Council Resolution 146011 in connection with Section 3 , Republic Act 7653.
They were accused of issuing unfunded management checks and failing to present documents to support disbursements from the bank during the acquisition of assets.
On February 8, 2019, the DoJ found probable cause to hold the applicants accountable for the breach.
As a result, several complaints were filed with the Makati City Regional Court of First Instance (RTC) against Campa and Pascua. These cases were drawn at RTC-Branch 58, chaired by Judge Eugene Paras.
The lower court dismissed their motion to dismiss the charges, prompting them to file a certiorari motion, arguing that the BTI had committed a serious abuse of discretion amounting to a lack or excess of jurisdiction when it ruled that there had been no undue delay in the conduct of the Department of Justice investigation.
In granting Campa and Pascua’s request, the court ruled that “the undue delay of the prosecution in the preliminary investigation violated the applicants’ right to a speedy resolution of their case”.
“The petitioners here neither caused nor contributed to the delay – no delaying tactics were employed, nor unnecessary motions were brought,” the court said.
“In fact, the delay seems to be attributable only to the prosecution. Therefore, the institutional delay could not be validly noted and considered in favor of the prosecution. Because in this context, there is no one else to blame than -same.”
The High Court added that Campa and Pascua had been unduly harmed by the 10-year delay “because access to files and contact with witnesses may prove too difficult to defend themselves effectively in a trial”.