The Philippines’ Office of the Ombudsman has filed graft charges against a former Philippine Gaming and Amusement Corporation (PAGCOR) chief and other ex-gaming officials before the island nation’s anti-graft court over PHP37 million ($ 800,952) swim team funding mess.
Charged before the Philippines’ anti-graft court, the Sandiganbayan with three counts violation of Section 3 of Republic Act 3019 (Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act) was former PAGCOR chairman Efraim Genuino.
Genuino, who served as PAGCOR chairman during the administration of former Philippine president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, was credited for the creation of the multi-billion peso Entertainment City in Manila.
Other gaming officials of the state gaming firm, including former President and Chief Operations Officer Rafael Fransisco, former Executive Vice President and Internal Audit Department head Rene Figueroa, former Senior Vice President for Corporate Communications and Services Edward King, Vice President for Accounting Ester Hernandez and Assistant Vice President for Internal Audit Valente Custodio, were also indicted with two counts of graft.
The Ombudsman also included former Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) Chairman William Ramirez and Philippine Amateur Swimming Association Incorporated (PASA) president Mark Joseph as co-accused of the ex-PAGCOR officials in the case.
Local media reported that the anti-graft buster recommended that each of the accused post a PHP30, 000 ($649.42) bail bond for each graft count.
According to the information from the anti-graft court, the cases against the accused stemmed from the more than PHP124 million ($800,952) that was granted by PAGCOR – through Genuino – to fund the training of the swimmers under PASA starting 2007 in preparation for the 2012 Olympics in London.
Of the PHP124 million ($2.68 million) granted by the gaming firm, the Ombudsman found that more than PHP37 million ($ 800,952) was used to pay Trace Aquatic Center (TAC), a private training facility owned by Genuino.
The Ombudsman said this is on top of the PHP 910,000 ($19,698) that the PAGCOR also released to PASA within the same period, supposedly for paying an IT company, Synercraft Control Technologies, for the maintenance of timer and computer systems used throughout the training program.
The Ombudsman, through its prosecutorial arm Office of the Special Prosecutor (OSP) said the release of both funds was anomalous as it wasn’t approved by the PAGCOR Board of Directors.
The OSP also said both funds should have been released directly to PSC to form part of its National Sports Development Fund (NSDF) as provided by law. The PASA is an attached agency under the PSC.