BPI Family Savings v. First Metro Investment (G.R. No. 132390)

Facts:

Respondent FMIC an investment house, through its EVP Ong, opened a current account amounting P100M with petitioner’s San Francisco Del Monte branch upon the request of his friend which is a close acquaintance of said bank’s branch manager with the latter’s aim of increasing the deposit level in his branch. Petitioner through its SFDM branch manager guaranteed the payment of deposit by the FMIC with interest on the condition that the interest is to be paid in advance. An agreement was reached between the parties and subsequently petitioner paid FMIC upon clearance of the latter’s check deposit. However, on the basis of an Authority to Debit signed by the EVP and Senior Manager of FMIC, petitioner transferred P80M from FMCI’s current account to the savings account of one Tevesteco, a stevedoring company. FMIC denied having authorized the transfer of its funds claiming that the signatures were falsified. In order to recover immediately its deposit, FMCI issued a check payable to itself and drawn on its deposit but was dishonored upon upon presentation for payment. Thus, FMIC filed a complaint with the RTC which then ruled in their favor. CA affirmed.

Issue:

Whether petitioner was remiss in its fiduciary duty.

Ruling: YES.

Petitioner maintains that respondent should have first inquired whether the deposit of P100 Million and the fixing of the interest rate were pursuant to its (petitioner’s) internal procedures. Petitioner’s stance is a futile attempt to evade an obligation clearly established by the intent of the parties. What transpires in the corporate board room is entirely an internal matter. Hence, petitioner may not impute negligence on the part of respondent’s representative in failing to find out the scope of authority of petitioner’s Branch Manager. Indeed, the public has the right to rely on the trustworthiness of bank managers and their acts. Obviously, confidence in the banking system, which necessarily includes reliance on bank managers, is vital in the economic life of our society.

Thus, we uphold the finding of both lower courts that petitioner failed to exercise that degree of diligence required by the nature of its obligations to its depositors. A bank is under obligation to treat the accounts of its depositors with meticulous care, whether such account consists only of a few hundred pesos or of million of pesos. Here, petitioner cannot claim it exercised such a degree of care required of it and must, therefore, bear the consequence.

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