The businessman owes the Bases Conversion and Development Authority damages worth P1.15 billion. Until he is arrested or posts bail, he is considered a ‘fugitive from justice’
Published 3:40 PM, Jun 14, 2014
Updated 10:07 AM, Jun 16, 2014
MANILA, Philippines – An arrest warrant for estafa has been issued by a Pasay City Regional Trial Court against businessman Robert John L. Sobrepeña.
This was after the Department of Justice (DOJ) on Wednesday, June 10, charged him with estafa for owing the state-owned Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA) damages worth P1.15 billion. (READ: Baguio’s Camp John Hay chair indicted for P1.15-B estafa)
Pasay RTC Judge Pedro de Leon Gutierrez issued the arrest warrant.
BCDA president and CEO Arnel Paciano D. Casanova said that until such time that Sobrepeña is arrested or posts bail, he is “now a fugitive from justice.”
Sobrepeña, chairman of the Camp John Hay Development Corporation (CJHDevCo) is also affiliated with Fil-Estate Corporation, College Assurance Plan (CAP) and the Metro Rail Transit Development Corporation (MRTDevco).
In August 2012, BCDA filed with the DOJ an estafa complaint against CJHDevCo board of directors and officials for misrepresenting the state of the company’s finances, misleading the government into believing that CJHDevCo was capable of paying its annual rent.
CJHDevCo had accumulated lease payment arrears to the BCDA amounting to P3.4 billion, of which, 25% or P850 million, which belongs to the people of Baguio and surrounding municipalities.
Under the terms of a 1996 lease agreement, the company was supposed to annual rent amounting to P425 million or 5% of gross revenues for the first 5 years of the lease, whichever was higher. This meant that for 1998, 1999, and 2000, the government was supposed to receive P1.275 billion in rental payments.
In 1998, Sobrepeña claimed CJHDevCo’s operations were adversely affected, resulting in losses of P1.445 billion, which was increasing daily. As a result, the agreement was first restructured in 2000.
CJHDevCo, however, concealed the fact that it declared cash dividends totalling P928 million in the years 1998, 1999, and 2000. (Editor’s note: It was earlier written that CJHDevCo did not declare cash dividends totalling P928 million in the years 1998, 1999, and 2000. We regret the error.)
In its resolution, the Department of Justice pointed out, “CJHDevCo deliberately chose not to perform its rental obligations to BCDA despite knowledge of such and existence of retained earnings and other revenue.”
The DOJ resolution stated that based on its 1998 financial statements, “CJHDevCo could have very well met its rental obligation of P425,001,378 million had it chosen to do so as seen by its acts of disposing P674,065,290 by way of dividends ….”
Casanova declared the finding of probably cause against Sobrepena will “strengthen BCDA’s position in our pending arbitration case against CJHDevco at the Philippine Dispute and Resolution Center.” – Rappler.com