Ombudsman clears SBMA execs in hotel takeover

Posted 2 months ago

SUBIC BAY FREEPORT, Philippines — The Office of the Ombudsman has dismissed the criminal complaints filed against an incumbent and former officials of the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) in connection with the takeover of the management of a hotel in this freeport.

Ombudsman clears SBMA execs in hotel takeover
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Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales approved the recommendation of graft investigation and prosecution officer Zarnette Sanceda to dismiss the complaint filed by Freeport Elite Resort Inc. (FERI) against deputy administrator for administration Ruel John Kabigting as well as former chairman Roberto Garcia, deputy administrator for legal affairs Randy Escolango, legal department manager Von Rodriguez and law enforcement department chief Orlando Maddela.

The case stemmed from a dispute between two groups of Korean investors seeking control of the former Ocean Hotel in 2015.

Kang Il-chan, a majority stockholder of FERI, filed a petition before the Olongapo Regional Trial Court Branch 72 for the annulment of the subscription payments of a certain Cho Chan-choon for using company funds.

In a decision on March 16, 2015, the court ruled in favor of Kang, whose group later took control of the hotel.

FERI director Jo Kwang-rae filed the complaint before the ombudsman, saying the SBMA officials conspired with Kang to take over the hotel.

However, the ombudsman said the recognition by SBMA officials of Kang’s group as the majority shareholder did not constitute usurpation of authority or grave abuse of authority.

The respondents ”never employed fraud, pretense or misrepresentation in their actions nor acted with cruelty, severity or excessive use of authority,” the ombudsman said.


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