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DoJ okays P1.15-b estafa case vs. Sobrepeña

By Othel V. Campos | Jun. 12, 2014 at 12:01am [ ]

The Justice Department approved the filing of a P1.15-billion estafa case against Camp John Hay Development Corp., operator of the Camp John Hay facility in Baguio City, for alleged failure to pay annual rent to the government, the head of state-owned Bases Conversion and Development Authority said Wednesday.

BCDA president Arnel Paciano Casanova told reporters in a news briefing in the Bonifacio Global City, Taguig the criminal case would help the agency investigate other deals that CJHDevCo had entered into in the past years.

“This is a criminal case. They have defrauded the government and misrepresented a number of deals that could have added to government revenues. We see this as a major breakthrough as this will pave the way for us to look into other lease contracts with locators within the facility,” he said.

Casanova, citing the DoJ resolution, said prosecutors had found probable cause to charge CJHDevCo chairman Robert John Sobrepeña with the crime of estafa under Article 315 of the Revised Penal Code.

CJHDevCo failed to pay the government annual rent, citing reasons of financial incapability due to operational losses amounting to P1.445 billion.

Casanova said the government should have received P1.275 billion in rental for the years for 1998 to 2000, that led to the first restructured agreement in 2000.

BCDA said the company concealed the fact that it declared cash dividends totaling P928 million in the years 1998, 1999 and 2000.

The DOJ resolution said “CJHDevco deliberately chose not to perform its rental obligations to BCDA despite knowledge of such and existence of retained earnings and other revenue.”

It also declared the BCDA suffered damage and prejudice in the amount P1.15 billion, which  represented the difference between the amount it was entitled to receive under the lease agreement, if it had it insisted on the performance of CJHDevCo’s rental obligations.

Casanova said BCDA’s serious efforts to remove fraudulent businesses was a step in the right direction to promote transparent and accountable business practices and level the playing field.

“This is our effort in leveling the playing field. We uphold contracts and make those who breach accountable for their actions,” he said.

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