Philippines-based gaming technology provider PhilWeb Corporation chairman Roberto Ongpin may now heave a sigh of relief after a Philippine court stops the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) from implementing his expulsion from the board in connection with the 2009 insider trading scandal.
In a six-page court resolution obtained by CalvinAyre.com, the Court of Appeals granted the request of Ongpin for the issuance of a 60-day temporary restraining order against the implementation of the SEC decision dated July 8, 2016.
The SEC, in its decision, ordered the disqualification of Ongpin from the board of any publicly listed company for allegedly committing insider trading in the sale of Philex Mining shares in 2009. Ongpin currently sits as the chairman of Philweb and mining firm Atok Big Wedge Inc that are both publicly listed.
The Philweb chairman was also slapped with a P174 million (US$ 3.69 million) fine, or P1 million ($21,200) for each of the 174 counts of insider trading, based on Section 54.1 of the Securities regulation Code. The fine was 10 times larger than the original P17.4 million penalty recommended by the SEC’s enforcement and investor protection department (EIPD).
“Gauging from the complexity of the matters at hand and seeing that the circumstances in this case present an urgent and paramount necessity to prevent serious damage upon petitioner Ongpin since the assailed Decision of the SEC en banc may, at any time, be implemented pursuant to Section 12 of Rule 43 of the Rules of Court, we resolve to grant the prayer for the issuance of a temporary restraining order,” read the resolution penned by Associate Justice Ma. Luisa Quijano-Padilla.
The court explained that the court issued a temporary injunctive relief in order to preserve “the status quo ante” between the parties. The Court of Appeals set the hearing for Ongpin’s petition for a writ of preliminary injunction on August 23 and 24, 2016.
In a disclosure to the Philippine Stock Exchange on Friday, Philweb refuted the allegations of the SEC against their chairman, saying that the 2009 Philex Mining case has already been junked by the Philippines’ Sandiganbayan for lack of probable cause.
“Twice the Sandiganbayan quashed the case for lack of probable cause. The Ombudsman tried to allege that the behest loan to Ongpin had caused damage to DBP when in fact and in truth, DBP benefited to the extent of Php1.4 billion in this case,” said the disclosure signed by Philweb Corporate Information Officer Cliburn Anthony Orbe. “This particular case now has been shifted by the SEC to an insider trading case, but in no way can this case be called insider trading. The jurisprudence is clear on that. The case had unquestionably prescribed as it was filed almost a year after the two year deadline required in the Securities Regulations Code.”