By Rommel F. Lopez

State deposit insurer Philippine Deposit Insurance Corporation (PDIC) said it will file criminal charges against officers and employees of the closed AMA Rural Bank (RB) of Mandaluyong, Inc. “for refusal to comply with their legal duty to account for and turn over bank records under their accountabilities.”

The Monetary Board (MB) of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) ordered the closure of AMA RB for having insufficient assets to cover its liabilities on November 7.  A day after the closure, the PDIC took over as the bank’s receiver and liquidator.

In a press briefing last Nov. 15, the PDIC said they are in possession of the bank’s premises but are being slowed down by uncooperative staffers of the closed bank who refused to hand over bank records.

PDIC gave accountable AMA RB officers and employees 24 hours to report to the state deposit insurer and comply with PDIC’s order or face legal action. The PDIC said only 16 accountable employees of the Bank reported at the bank premises as of November 19.

However, AMA RB disputes the claims of PDIC that they were uncooperative.

“Contrary to the misleading statements of PDIC during its media conference, all the records, documents, and assets of the bank were seized and sealed by PDIC and no officer or employee of the bank was allowed to touch any of the bank documents,” the closed bank said in a statement.

AMA RB said PDIC’s abrupt termination of all its officers and employees prevented them from properly turning over its books, records, and assets to PDIC.

“The PDIC should not blame the bank for the consequences of the abrupt cessation of its operations, which effectively prevented the accounting of bank documents, records and assets, essential to settling depositors’ claims,” AMA RB said.

However, the PDIC reiterated that even with a bank closure, accountable officers and employees of the closed bank have duties under the law to cooperate with the PDIC.

“When a bank is served a notice of closure, employment is terminated by operation of law but directors, officers and employees who hold assets, records, documents in trust or under administration have a duty to account for and surrender these to the Receiver as well as provide information relating to the assets/records,” the PDIC said.

The PDIC Charter or Republic Act 3591 states that “refusal to turn over or destroying or tampering bank records by any director, officer, employee or agent of a bank are punishable with imprisonment of not less than six (6) years up to twelve (12) years or a fine of not more than P10 million, or both, at the discretion of the court.”

The PDIC said they are looking for ways “to minimize delay in the payment of deposit insurance” to all insured depositors of the closed bank.