Enrile dares PSE to reveal truth about alleged Villar blackmail

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MANILA, Philippines—Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile challenged Philippine Stock Exchange officials to shed light on whether Sen. Manuel Villar threatened them with a Senate probe into bourse irregularities if they didn’t allow the sale of his own shares in Vista Land so he could raise billions of pesos more in a secondary offering.
“Did Senator Manny Villar, as had been the talk in business circles, really threaten the PSE with a Senate investigation of the shenanigans of its own members? Was such a threat, no matter how veiled, hidden in the unrecorded caucus?” Enrile said.
“If such is a fact, I call on the PSE board to say so. They are there to protect the investing public and they must come out with the truth about his allegation. Otherwise, there can be no other conclusion but that Manny Villar indeed used their own misdeeds to blackmail them,” he added.
Ex-President Joseph Estrada and Enrile exposed on Thursday minutes of a PSE meeting in June 2007 wherein Villar secured the PSE board’s approval of the release of almost 30 percent of his own shares in Vista Land Lifescape, Inc., from a 180-day lock-up period so he could sell them in a secondary offering.
The alleged bending of the rules, Enrile said, enabled Villar to gain billions of pesos that he is supposedly spending on what is reportedly the country’s most expensive presidential campaign.
Enrile said that some PSE board members wanted any exemption from the normal rules to be scrutinized and its implications on the stock market carefully studied.
“But there were those who were clearly ready to look the other way and were apparently disposed from the beginning to railroad the approval of the request contrary to the rules of the PSE,” Enrile said.
“In particular, these were Director and President Francis Ed. Lim, Director Anabelle Chua, Director Roberto Atendido and Director Cornelio Peralta,” he added.
Enrile said the minutes of the meeting on June 29, 2007 showed that then Senate President Villar sought an audience with members of the board and himself made a presentation before the directors in connection with his company’s request to be exempted from the lock-up requirement.
The re-electionist senator said Villar secured the approval in just over an hour.
Enrile said Villar himself told him in 2007 that he gained P5 billion from the public listing of Vista Land and that he would use this amount to fund his presidential campaign in 2010.
The Senate President said he sought an explanation from the PSE board about Villar’s intervention in PSE activities on March 18, 2010.
He received a letter marked “private and confidential” from PSE chair Hans Sicat about Villar’s presence in one of the PSE’s meetings in 2007 but withheld information about the caucus.
Sicat, Enrile said, turned down his request for a copy of the minutes of the meeting Villar attended but the Senate President said he, nonetheless, managed to secure a copy of those minutes.
“The ensuing deliberations show that at least some members of the Board had serious concerns and they pointed out the flaws and adverse implications of the former Senate president’s request,” Enrile said.
Enrile said Director Vivian Yuchengco even recommended sanctions to the underwriters who caused the issue because they knew fully well that the exchange required the lock-up.
Lawyer Roy Rafols, Enrile said, said that listing applicants whether by way of an introduction or by way of an initial public offering must comply with the rules.
Enrile said the board proceeded to vote on the issue of whether to allow the sale of the shares despite the lock up with the vote going Villar’s way.
Enrile said the chair of the PSE board hoped that the whole board “stand united” behind the decision.
“Because of the short cut committed by Manny Villar, many followed suit. Many more investors in the stock exchange could have been duped and suffered loses. Manny Villar and his conspirators in the PSE destroyed the integrity of the Philippine Stock Exchange,” Enrile said.

Source: Philippine Daily Inquirer

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