Guingona, Jr. v. City Fiscal of Manila (G.R. No. L-60033)

Facts:

Private respondent Clement David invested with the National Savings and Loan Association (NSLA) placed on 9 deposits through the inducement of an Australian national who was allegedly a close associate of petitioners herein. NSLA was then placed under receivership by the Central Bank. David filed claims for his and his sister’s investments and received a report that only a portion of the investments they claim were entered in the records of NSLA. David alleged that there was misappropriation of funds and violation of Central Bank circulars, hence charged petitioners herein with estafa. Petitioners moved to dismiss the charges on the ground that David’s claims comprised a purely civil obligation which was itself novated.

Issue:

Whether or not the criminal complaint for estafa will prosper.

Ruling: NO.

It must be pointed out that when private respondent David invested his money on nine and savings deposits with the aforesaid bank, the contract that was perfected was a contract of simple loan or mutuum and not a contract of deposit.

Hence, the relationship between the private respondent and the Nation Savings and Loan Association is that of creditor and debtor; consequently, the ownership of the amount deposited was transmitted to the Bank upon the perfection of the contract and it can make use of the amount deposited for its banking operations, such as to pay interests on deposits and to pay withdrawals. While the Bank has the obligation to return the amount deposited, it has, however, no obligation to return or deliver the same money that was deposited. And, the failure of the Bank to return the amount deposited will not constitute estafa through misappropriation punishable under Article 315, par. l(b) of the Revised Penal Code, but it will only give rise to civil liability over which the public respondents have no- jurisdiction.

But even granting that the failure of the bank to pay the time and savings deposits of private respondent David would constitute a violation of paragraph 1(b) of Article 315 of the Revised Penal Code, nevertheless any incipient criminal liability was deemed avoided, because when the aforesaid bank was placed under receivership by the Central Bank, petitioners Guingona and Martin assumed the obligation of the bank to private respondent David, thereby resulting in the novation of the original contractual obligation arising from deposit into a contract of loan and converting the original trust relation between the bank and private respondent David into an ordinary debtor-creditor relation between the petitioners and private respondent. Consequently, the failure of the bank or petitioners Guingona and Martin to pay the deposits of private respondent would not constitute a breach of trust but would merely be a failure to pay the obligation as a debtor.

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