Documents in the missing P380M – 3

By: Modesto P. Sa-onoy

THE search for answers on how a large amount of money could have disappeared has become the ball in the table tennis game in the Yanson family feud. Who should explain? The Yanson 4 group demanded that Leo Rey should explain while the matriarch Olivia wanted Celina Yanson to do that. Nobody seems willing to tell the public. Perhaps the documents on hand will tell something about its whereabouts. People deserve to know after public interest was jeopardized.

Any refutation, denial or additional information is welcome.

We now know of the funds attributed to Rowena Sarona and Leo Rey’s admission of disbursing millions for the employees. But what of the rest?

If not for the alertness of a bank employee who wondered about large withdrawals, the bleeding of the company would have continued. All the while that money was being withdrawn at the MPO under Leo Rey as president. He had control and supervision over that office and yet he refused to explain.

Be that as it may, why was Sarona tempted? As the saying goes, a corrupt system can make an honest employee corrupt. The documents show that the system under Leo Rey’s control and supervision opened the gates for Sarona to fall. The devil never sleeps.

Nevertheless, tempted or not, Sarona, despite her just over P17,000 monthly salary had a very wide latitude of authority.

She had charge of record-keeping, custody of checks, and authority to sign checks as well as privy to and approved disbursement transactions of the company’s MPO.

Moreover, these checks under her custody were not only the company checks but also those that were pre-signed by one other signatory. She was one of the two signatories, not only of the pre-signed checks, but all checks issued by the MPO.

She was also in charge of preparing and approving all checks issuance by the MPO. She had therefore practically all the powers of an owner in fund disbursements.

Such authority is prone to abuse and the loss of millions of company funds might be her fault, but the system allowed her to abuse it. To reiterate, if not for the alertness of a bank employee, she could have abused it further.

If responsibility is pinned, she alone should not bear its full brunt. Leo Rey must carry the greater burden of accountability for this kind of management that did not provide for check and balance. A right thinking, competent manager would have easily seen the defective system, but he failed. For his failure he blames his siblings, particularly Celina Yanson who had nothing to do with the disbursements and considering the wide latitude of authority given to Leo Rey.

Or could we even say that Leo Rey established this system so he could easily instruct Sarona to release money quickly without need for proper processing or explanation?

The news also say that Sarona issued checks to “other beneficiaries” that were, we presume, not entitled to receive money from the company.

Documents listed some of these beneficiaries who have nothing to do with VTI, its businesses and its public welfare programs. Let’s cite some of these recipients later.

I mentioned earlier the involvement of Rey Repollo, the favourite employee and protected by Olivia Yanson. News report says his services had been terminated, an act that infuriated Olivia to the extent that she did not only rattle the company but caused this conflict that had gravely damaged the company and family unity.

The documents say that there were two “signatories for all checks issuances of MPO”. One signatory was Sarona and the other was Repollo, the vice president for Supply and Logistics. However, the report further said that Repollo was not always in the office so that he signed the blank checks and left it to Sarona. Then Sarona would fill up the checks, sign it and that was it!

The disbursements could have been monitored if Sarona or at least the MPO had informed the Bacolod main office of the transactions and the amount of money released. In this way, the tracking of the expenses would not have caused this loss of so much money.

However, while there is a system of tracking company expenses, the MPO did not follow the system all the time. Leo Rey cannot wash his hands of direct responsibility.

Let’s continue tomorrow.