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Senate ‘invites’ Bautista to P1-b probe

SENATOR Francis Escudero, chairman of the Senate committee on banks, said it would conduct  a hearing next week on the allegations of P1 billion in ill-gotten wealth of Commission on Elections chairman Andres Bautista as exposed by his estranged wife. 

To be summoned to the hearing are officials from the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (Luzon Development Bank, Anti-Money Laundering Council and the National Bureau of Investigation.

When asked  if Bautista would be invited, Escudero said: “In the meantime, the committee hearing will simply be open to Chairman Bautista’s participation should he voluntarily want to, given his public pronouncements that he welcomes any probe to air his side and clear his name.”

Escudero made the confirmation after Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III and Senator Panfilo Lacson filed a resolution for the Senate panel to look into the “possible violation” of the Anti-Money Laundering Act by the LDB. 

Senate Resolution No. 468 states that Bautista, under the AMLA, is considered a “politically exposed person” for holding a prominent public position.

Senator Francis Escudero

It also mentioned a BSP circular which states that covered institutions “shall specify criteria and description of the types of customers that are likely to pose low, normal or high money laundering/terrorist financing risk to their operations as well as the standards in applying reduced, average and enhanced due diligence.”

“In the case of LDB and the bank accounts of the Comelec chair, the compliance with the required due diligence must be studied and investigated,” the senators said.

“The splitting of accounts of the Comelec chair in one small thrift bank so as not to be under the radar of the Anti-Money Laundering Council, likewise, needs to be further looked into,” they added.

Patricia Paz Bautista earlier alleged that the Comelec chief owns more than 30 bank accounts containing a total balance of P329 million. 

Based on his 2016 Statement of Assets, Liabilities, and Net Worth, Bautista only has a net worth of P176.3 million.

The embattled Comelec chief has  repeatedly denied the allegations of his estranged wife, claiming that there is an “orchestrated campaign” against him and his former wife was out to extort money from him. 

Sotto earlier filed Senate Resolution 456’asking the Senate Blue  ribbon committee chaired by Senator  Richard Gordon to investigate Mrs. Bautista’s allegations.

Gordon said they would push through with its investigation on  Bautista’s unexplained wealth but  would step aside once an impeachment complaint is filed at the House of Representatives.

Gordon has  not scheduled the hearing as the resolution has not been referred to his committee as specified in the resolution.

Sotto said Gordon was still busy. 

His committee is conducting hearings on the P6.4-billion drug shipment from Xiamen, China which slipped through the Bureau of Customs. 

Topics: Senator Francis Escudero , Ill-gotten wealth , Andres Bautista , Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas , Luzon Development Bank , Anti-Money Laundering Council , National Bureau of Investigation
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