Intengan v. CA (G.R. No. 128996)

Facts:

Citibank filed a complaint for violation of the Corporation Code against 2 of its officers. The complaint was attached with the affidavit of Vic Lim, VP of Citibank, who was then instructed by the higher management of the bank to investigate the anomalous/highly irregular activities of the said officers. As evidence, Lim annexed bank records purporting to establish the deception practiced by the officers. Some of the documents pertained to the dollar deposits of petitioners. As an incident to the foregoing, petitioners filed respective motions for the exclusion and physical withdrawal of their bank records that were attached to Lim’s affidavit. The filing of Informations against private respondents was recommended for alleged violation of Republic Act No. 1405. Private respondents appealed before the DOJ which ruled in their favor. Resort to the Court, referred the matter to the CA which then held that the disclosure was proper and falls under the exception under R.A. No. 1405.

Issue:

Whether or not the disclosure falls under the exception under R.A. No. 1405.

Ruling: NO.

Actually, this case should have been studied more carefully by all concerned. The finest legal minds in the country – from the parties’ respective counsel, the Provincial Prosecutor, the Department of Justice, the Solicitor General, and the Court of Appeals – all appear to have overlooked a single fact which dictates the outcome of the entire controversy. A circumspect review of the record shows us the reason. The accounts in question are U.S. dollar deposits; consequently, the applicable law is not Republic Act No. 1405 but Republic Act (RA) No. 6426, known as the “Foreign Currency Deposit Act of the Philippines.”

Thus, under R.A. No. 6426 there is only a single exception to the secrecy of foreign currency deposits, that is, disclosure is allowed only upon the written permission of the depositor. Incidentally, the acts of private respondents complained of happened before the enactment on September 29, 2001 of R.A. No. 9160 otherwise known as the Anti-Money Laundering Act of 2001.

A case for violation of Republic Act No. 6426 should have been the proper case brought against private respondents. Private respondents Lim and Reyes admitted that they had disclosed details of petitioners’ dollar deposits without the latter’s written permission. It does not matter if that such disclosure was necessary to establish Citibank’s case against Dante L. Santos and Marilou Genuino. Lim’s act of disclosing details of petitioners’ bank records regarding their foreign currency deposits, with the authority of Reyes, would appear to belong to that species of criminal acts punishable by special laws, called malum prohibitum.

*The decision however was still unfavorable to the petitioners since there is an issue as to prescription. The action to assail the disclosure of herein private respondents for them to be liable for violating RA 6426 had already prescribed.

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