Ombudsman files graft raps vs. ex-PAGCOR chair, 7 others at Sandiganbayan

MANILA — The Office of the Ombudsman (Ombudsman) filed on Friday before the Sandiganbayan graft charges against former Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) Chair Efraim Genuino for the alleged anomalous release of Php 37-million worth of funds for the training of swimmers who competed in the 2012 Olympics.

In two separate cases filed before the Sandiganbayan, Genuino and seven other former government officials were charged with two counts of violation of Section 3 (e) of Republic Act 3019, or the “Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.”

Aside from Genuino, also charged were former PAGCOR president and chief operations officer Rafael Francisco, former PAGCOR senior vice president Edward King, former PAGCOR executive vice president Rene Figueroa, former PAGCOR vice president Ester Hernandez, former PAGCOR assistant vice president Valente Custodio, former Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) Chair William Ramirez and former Philippine Amateur Swimming Association Inc. (PASA) president Mark Joseph.

The PASA is an attached agency of the PSC.

A separate case of violation of Section 3 (h) of RA No. 3019 was also filed against Genuino.

The cases arose from a complaint filed by the Philippine Swimming League in 2011.

Based on the information of the cases, checks totaling Php 37,063,488 were released by PAGCOR to PASA between April 2007 to August 2009 in connection with PAGCOR’s program of funding the development and training of swimmers who were about to compete in the 2012 Olympics.

The Ombudsman said that this is on top of the Php 910,000 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 the Office of the Special Prosecutor (OSP), said that the release of both funds was anomalous as it has not passed prior approval by the PAGCOR Board of Directors.

The OSP added that both funds should have been released directly to PSC to form part of its National Sports Development Fund (NSDF) as provided by law.

It noted that the Trace Aquatic Center (TAC), a sports facility leased by PASA for the training program, was owned by Genuino and his family.

“The funds directly released to PASA were expended to pay TAC for the use of its aquatic, a sports facility effectively owned and controlled by accused Genuino and his family,” the OSP said.

The OSP said that the timer and computer systems maintained by Synercraft were also owned by the TAC. Perfecto Raymundo/PNA/