The Court of Appeals (CA) has dismissed the petition filed by the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) seeking the inclusion of the bank accounts and assets of a former private banking officer of Citibank’s Binondo branch outside the Philippines in the coverage of the freeze order it earlier issued against the respondent.
In a nine-page resolution written by Associate Justice Ramon Garcia, the CA’s Fifth Division denied the motion for partial reconsideration filed by the OSG in connection with the freeze order it issued against the bank accounts of Francis Bryan Ang, former assistant vice president of the bank’s Citigold Wealth Management group, who allegedly embezzled more than P100 million of his clients’ money.
Concurring with the ruling were Associate Justices Amelita Tolentino and Samuel Gaerlan.
A 20-day freeze order on the bank accounts and motor vehicles of Ang was earlier issued on March 27, 2012. Ang allegedly carted away hundreds of millions and went missing for years.
The CA issued the freeze order covering the bank accounts except those maintained in Fubon Bank (Hong Kong Ltd.), Tsim Sha Tsui, Hong Kong.
Covered by the freeze order are Ang’s bank accounts in Citibank, Banco de Oro, Unibank, Citicorp Financial Services & Insurance Brokerage, East West Bank, HSBC, Rizal Commercial Banking Corp, Metrobank, Bank of the Philippine Islands, Allied Bank, Union Bank, Philippine National Bank, Sterling Bank of Asia and Union Bank.
Several bank accounts and related web accounts of Ang were also ordered frozen.
The CA ordered said bank institutions and the Land Transportation Office to “submit to the court and to the Anti-Money Laundering Council within 24 hours from receipt of the resolution…”
It also ordered the AMLC “to initiate the request for legal assistance from the government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China in order to forfeit or confiscate the funds deposited in the bank accounts of…Ang in Fubon Bank…pursuant to the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty between the Philippines and Hong Kong.”
In its new ruling, the CA said that it cannot issue an order “to freeze the assets of respondent Ang which is found in Tsim Sha Tsui, Hong Kong, or outside our territorial jurisdiction.”
The CA said that Republic Act 9160, otherwise known as the “Anti-Money Laundering Act of 2001”, reveals that it does not give Philippine courts the power to freeze accounts located outside the Philippines.