PSC expands probe into payroll scam

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    THE Philippine Sports Commission will dig deeper into the controversy involving a PSC contractual employee who, as a staff member of the personnel department, was able to steal funds from the government sports agency through bogus accounts of athletes and coaches no longer in the national pool.

    “Paul Ignacio confessed to the National Bureau of Investigation that siya lang ang gumawa.But I don’t believe that he was able to do it on his own,” PSC deputy executive director Atty. Guillermo Iroy Jr. said yesterday.

    He said PSC officer-in-charge Ramon Fernandez is forming a fact-finding committee in coordination with the NBI “so we can expand the investigation to look into the issue deeper.

    The PSC has already formed its own investigating team that will coordinate with the NBI.”

    An IT specialist who began his stint as a contractual worker with the PSC’s MIS department in 2011, Ignacio was picked up by the NBI last Tuesday for questioning after it was discovered that he allegedly funneled millions of pesos into his personal bank account at the nearby Land Bank branch by using the accounts of “ghost” national athletes and coaches.

    As a staff member of the PSC human resources department, Ignacio was entrusted to deliver the disk drive containing the list of athletes and coaches in the national pool on the PSC payroll to the bank, according to Iroy. He said the suspicious transactions involving Ignacio were discovered by officials of the Land Bank branch, one of the PSC’s depository banks, at the Century Park Sheraton Hotel, just across the Rizal Memorial Sports Complex where the PSC main office is located.

    “We asked Ignacio to come over yesterday (last Tuesday) with his laptop because it is payroll time again. So nanduon na na naman ‘yung scheme.

    “The bank records show that over five years as much as P12 to 14 million was stolen from the PSC using these fake accounts,” Iroy said, adding the records of these transactions remained intact in the PSC laptop that Ignacio surrendered to the NBI.

    One of the Land Bank branch’s “red-flags,” he said, was Ignacio’s withdrawal of P2 million from his personal account at the height of the pandemic.

    “He (Ignacio) took advantage of the pandemic so ma-aagravate ‘yung kaso niya,” Iroy said, adding the probe “will be expanded to include our COS (contract of service) or contractual workers because duon din dumadaan sa HR department ang payroll nila. We are looking at Ingnacio’s possible conspirators. Everyone is a suspect as of now.”

    He stressed they needed to get to the bottom of the irregularity “because even Malacanang is aware of this case now. We hope for a swift investigation and resolution of this case.”

    The PSC is set to file charges of theft, a non-bailable offense, and falsification of public documents against Ignacio, Iroy said.

    “I hope that Ignacio realizes the magnitude of his offense because the maximum penalty is life imprisonment if he is proven guilty,” Iroy noted.

    He said the investigation will not only ferret out Ignacio’s possible accomplices but also “strengthen the PSC’s processes and procedures to avoid committing the same mistakes. We want to strengthen our organization with the help of this investigation.”