4-top-level SSS officials are allegedly involved in stock trading controversy
Social Security System (SSS) Commissioner Jose Gabriel "Pompee" La Viña said in a forum last Tuesday he has started initiating an investigation on allegations of bribery involving "a minimum of" two of the four SSS officials he has earlier sued over the stock trading controversy in the institution. However, La Viña declined to name which of the officials are the subject of his current investigation.
La Viña filed an administrative complaint against the four whom he accused of allegedly giving the pension fund’s business to stockbrokers and using the same brokers for personal profit in what he said was a “clear conflict of interest.” La Vina added that the four are liable for “serious dishonesty and grave misconduct” since some of them used SSS-accredited stock brokers for their own benefit.
Reading from a statement, La Viña said at least one stockbroker is purportedly paying cash bribes to these SSS officials in the agency's Investments Sector. He said he informed SSS President Emmanuel Dooc about the supposed bribery as early as July. He conceded, however, that the reports he used as basis for his investigation are "still to be verified."
La Viña said the amount reported is allegedly in the six-figure range paid on a monthly basis based on the volume of business given to the stockbroker. He also refused to name the stockbroker involved in his current investigation.
He had earlier filed an administrative complaint against SSS Executive Vice President Rizaldy Capulong, Equities Product Development head Ernesto Francisco Jr., Equities Investment Division Chief Reginald Candelaria, and Chief Actuary George Ongkeko Jr. for allegedly profiting from trading their personal stocks with the same stockbrokers who manage the portfolio of the SSS.
La Viña said he would defer to the Congress, through its oversight powers, in doing a thorough investigation on the matter and ensuring that the hard-earned money of the SSS members were not compromised in this whole fiasco.
Meanwhile in the House of Representatives, Bayan Muna party-list Representative Carlos Zarate filed a resolution to investigate how these four SSS officials. In House Resolution 1434, Zarate sought the Committee on Good Government and Public Accountability to conduct an inquiry, in aid of legislation, into the allegations of profiteering and conflict of interests. This resolution comes on the heels of an administrative complaint filed by La Viña.
In his resolution, Zarate noted it was "unjust" for SSS members to suffer additional burden from the negative implications of the controversy while facing the prospect of higher monthly contributions to the fund.
House Committee on Banks and Financial Intermediaries chair Ben Evardone, on the other hand also filed a separate resolution urging a probe into the same controversy.
In House Resolution 1433, Evardone claimed the stock trading anomalies led to "investments opportunity losses" against the state-run pension fund.
The SSS currently has about 35 million members who contribute monthly. Based on its latest figures, the agency funds have reached P500 billion.