Court Convicts Officer of the Closed People’s Rural Bank of Binmaley (Pangasinan), Inc.

The Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Las PiAas City found an officer of the closed People's Rural Bank of Binmaley (Pangasinan), Inc. (PRBBI) guilty of four counts of violations to the General Banking Law of 2000 on charges filed by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP).

The RTC's Branch 255 sentenced Juanita G. Altarez, a former PRBBI area head and manager, to seven years of imprisonment and fined her Php 100,000 for each count.

The court ruling follows the recent decision of the Metropolitan Trial Court of Manila to convict the former chairman and president of Romblon-based Rural Bank of Cajidiocan in a separate case filed by the BSP.

The case stemmed from a general examination of the said bank in October 2007, where BSP noted several major findings, including the grant of 142 fictitious loans amounting to Php 7.0 million by PRBBI's Las PiAas City Branch that were facilitated by Altarez. PRBBI then had eight branches located in Pangasinan, Baguio City, Bulacan, and Metro Manila.

After the closure of PRBBI in April 2008, the BSP's investigation further revealed that each of the 142 borrowers � several of whom were co-makers of each other � obtained a uniform loan amount of Php 50,000. The said borrowers could not be located, except for four borrowers who denied obtaining said loans and were presented as witnesses.

In the decision, it was stated that Altarez's position in the bank made it convenient for her to facilitate the fabrication of loan documents as hers is the only approval needed, and that As a superior officer, she is in the position to influence and direct her subordinates to prepare and sign loan documents with information she has provided, and thereafter have the cashier's check or proceeds released in her favor.

Furthermore, the court found her defense � that she only approved the loans without verifying the information indicated in the loan documents because she trusted her staff having been employed in PRBBI longer than her � unacceptable for someone who has been in the banking industry for almost thirty years.

Additional charges against Altarez on the falsification of documents are still pending with the Metropolitan Trial Court of Las PiAas City, Branch 123.

BSP continues to promote good governance among its supervised institutions to ensure the soundness of the banking system and to protect the interest of the banking public. Republic Act No. 11211 or the amendments to the BSP Charter mandates BSP to promote Financial Stability.

Source: Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP)