Sandiganbayan overrules Nani Perez challenge on foreign bank records  

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    FORMER Justice Secretary Hernando “Nani” Perez has failed to persuade the Sandiganbayan to reverse its Nov. 28, 2019 resolution that denied his motion challenging the admissibility and relevance of key prosecution evidence in his $2-million ill-gotten wealth case.

    In a resolution penned by Presiding Justice Amparo M. Cabotaje-Tang, the anti-graft court’s Third Division denied motions for reconsideration filed by Perez and his brother-in-law Ramon C. Arceo Jr. who both insisted that their supplemental request for admissions should have been granted.

    The defendants wanted the petitioner Republic of the Philippines to affirm “admissions” allegedly made by former Overall Deputy Ombudsman Melchor Carandang pertaining to documentary evidence on record.

    These included the execution of an affidavit of desistance by former Manila Rep. Mark Jimenez or Mario Crespo in October 2007; that EFG Private Bank Account Nos. 338118 and 348118 are one and the same; that Account No. 338118 was closed on Oct. 31, 2001; that it is businessman Ernest Escaler who holds Account No. 338128 and that funds from Account No, 338118 were transferred to it; and that Perez is not connected to private firm Swordtail Limited.

    The ill-gotten wealth case, filed by the Office of the Ombudsman in 2014, alleged that Perez failed to disclose a $1.7-million fund transfer that went into his bank account courtesy of Escaler.

    The sum was reportedly part of the $2-million cash paid to Perez by Jimenez/Crespo in February 2001 allegedly in exchange for the latter’s exclusion in a plunder investigation against deposed president Joseph Estrada.

    Four criminal charges previously filed at the Sandiganbayan against Perez and other defendants in connection with the alleged payoff have been dismissed for lack of evidence, inordinate delay, and for duplication of legal action.

    In denying the defendants’ appeal, the court said their motions were bereft of merit.

    “An examination of the motion for reconsideration shows that respondent-movants did not raise any new argument that would warrant a reversal of this Court’s resolution. To be sure, respondent-movants raise the same arguments they invoked in their Motion for Supplemental Request for Admission … which the Court had squarely passed upon,” the Sandiganbayan said.

    The court reiterated that the government has denied that Carandang made the supposed admissions about the closure of EFG Account No. 338118 on Oct. 31, 2001; that the bank documents obtained from the Swiss Embassy were barred from being used in a legal or judicial procedure, and that the Federal Office of Justice of Switzerland has not cleared the same set of documents for use in the case.

    The Sandiganbayan also noted that the transcript of stenographic notes (TSNs) submitted by Perez and Arceo purportedly containing Carandang’s admissions were mere photocopies and unauthenticated.

    It said the same TSNs did not even contain the supposed admissions of Carandang, contrary to the defendant’s assertions.

    “Worst, the attached transcripts of stenographic notes do not buttress the purported admission of then Overall Deputy Ombudsman Carandang,” the court said.