In relation with the ongoing Camp John Hay dispute, the Bases Conversion Development Authority (BCDA) filed a 1.1 billion criminal case of estafa against Camp John Hay Development Corp. (CJHDevCo) chair Robert “Bob” Sobrepeña. In which, last June 16, Mr. Sobrepeña posted bail amounting to P40,000 at the Pasay Regional Trail Court Branch 119 after Judge Pedro de Leon Gutierrez issued a warrant for his arrest after the Department of Justice indicted him on June 10 for failing to pay the BCDA for the rental of 247 hectares within the John Hay Special Economic Zone (JHSEZ).
It can be recalled that BCDA accused Mr. Bob Sobrepeña of making fraudulent financial declarations to evade full payment of rental fees from 1998 to 2000.
Under the terms of the 1996 Lease Agreement, CJHDevCo supposed to pay an annual rent to the BCDA of ₱425 million or 5% of gross income for the first five years of the lease, whichever was higher. This meant that for 1998 to 2000, the Government was supposed to receive at least ₱1.275 Billion in rent.
“The Department of Justice resolution is infirm on several points. First, whatever statement Mr. Sobrepeña may have made concerning CJHDevCo’s solvency was not what induced the BCDA to defer payment of CJHDevCo’s rental obligations,” he said.
Ubarra said BCDA agreed to defer rental payments under two restructuring memorandum of agreements signed in August 1999 and July 2000. – See more at: http://cjhdc.com/cjhdevco-chair-posts-bail-for-p1-1-b-estafa-case/#sthash.LE3DhmiE.dpuf
The BCDA president and chief executive officer Mr. Arnel Casanova had also noted earlier that the firm officials’ “representations on their finances were fraudulent and misleading. The real issue here is CJHDevCo’s nonpayment of lease rentals to government while declaring dividends, extending cash advances and assignment of shares amounting to ₱1.274 billion to its stockholders in 1998 to 2000” , Casanova said.
In an interview, Sobrepeña denied the allegations against him, and he describes the case filed to him as “purely for harassment.”
He added that while his firm had paid 40 percent of its dues to BCDA, only 25 percent of it’s commitment has been delivered. The denial of building and other permits resulted in CJHDevCo being able to develop only 4 of 25 hectares, severely affecting income generation. Nevertheless, the company said it was able to remit ₱1.4 billion to the BCDA, or approximately 40 percent of all payments due.
“A delay in the schedule of development would have a corresponding loss in projected revenue, although CJHDevCo continued to earn revenue from existing projects”, Sobrepeña explained.
In a CJHDevCo article:
According to CJHDevCo spokesman and lawyer Manuel Ubarra Jr., “Mr. Sobrepeña is ready to face this incredulous charge and prove his innocence in court,”. He added that the case is based solely on BCDA’s allegation that Sobrepeña committed “false pretense” as to CHJDevCo’s finances, resulting in the deferment rental payment for 1998, 1999 and 2000.
“The Department of Justice resolution is firm on several points. First, whatever statement Mr. Sobrepeña may have made concerning CJHDevCo’s solvency was not what induced the BCDA to defer payment of CJHDevCo’s rental obligations,” he said.
Ubarra said BCDA agreed to defer rental payments under two restructuring memorandum of agreements signed in August 1999 and July 2000.
He said the “whereas” clause expressly stated that CJHDevCo’s inability to undertake its development plans and realize its projected sales and revenues were caused by BCDA’s admitted breaches of the lease agreement, delays in fulfilling its obligations and the detrimental effects of the Asian financial crisis on the Philippine economy.
“These were the expressed reasons why BCDA agreed to the deferment of rental payments, not the imagined reasons now belatedly advanced by the BCDA,” Ubarra said.
According to the CJHDevCo official, the two memoranda of agreement were validated not only by the BCDA’s board of directors but also by the Office of the Government Corporate Counsel before these were approved by the Office of the President.
“Second, the DoJ resolution appears to have unduly singled out Mr. Sobrepeña. The charges against the rest of the board of directors of CJHDevCo were all dismissed on the ground of lack of probable cause. In contrast, Mr. Sobrepeña alone was charged to face prosecution for estafa,” Ubarra pointed out.
He also questioned how the DoJ investigating prosecutor was able to determine that it was Sobrepeña’s alleged statements that induced BCDA to sign the 1999 and 2000 memoranda of agreement.
“These transactions occurred about fifteen years ago. The sole witness for the BCDA is Mr. Arnel Casanova, who was not even a member of the BCDA Board of Directors that approved the agreements in 1999 and 2000. Mr. Casanova undeniably had no personal knowledge of the true reasons why the BCDA board approved the agreements,” he said.
Ubarra also noted that the ₱1.15 billion estafa complaint being claimed by the BCDA was one of the issues that’s already submitted for resolution in an ongoing arbitration case. Yahweh bless.