By: Modesto P. Sa-onoy
LAST Thursday the news quoted the legal counsel of the auditing firm Sycip, Gorres and Velayo saying that Celina Lopez Yanson, is “cleared of any liability” in the P380 million fund mess that is among the causes of the conflict in the family business, the Vallacar Transit Inc.
The clarification by SGV came after the camp of the other side, the mother, Olivia, and the siblings Leo Rey and Ginette accused Celina of responsibility in the supposedly unaccounted money since 2018.
The accusations about this missing money seem to be a game of football though not the kind VTI sponsors.
Daily Guardian’s news report of July 13-14 cited the family matriarch, Olivia, demanding that Celina explain the “P380 million missing from the coffers of VTI”.
The lawyer of Celina, Sheila Sison had called the accusations against Celina as “untrue and baseless”.
In the August 30 headline of Daily Guardian, Celina asked her mother “to tell the truth about the P380 million missing funds.”
The series of columns I wrote relative to this family feud had been to look for the cause and found it to be the favoritism by Olivia for an employee who headed the company’s Manila Purchasing Office where the alleged anomaly was discovered.
Although huge amounts of company funds cannot be accounted for and all the children at the time decided to terminate the services of the responsible employee, Olivia took the unusual, even unnatural step of defending the employee against four of her children. That act of favoritism did not only divide the family but also placed the interest of the company at grave risk.
Acting on a written request of SigfridFortun, lawyer of the Yanson 4, for a clarification on its audit report, the Poblador Bautista and Reyes Law Offices on September 10 said that, “without disclosing the contents of its report, SGV can confirm that the Report did not refer to Ms. Yanson-Lopez as the person directly liable for the loss of the funds.”
The firm’s senior partner, lawyers Alexander Poblador and DeograciasFellone signed the letter on behalf of SGV.
The Yansons had asked SGV to conduct an independent auditing probe after Lopez herself, as CFO, pushed for the investigation of several anomalous transactions reportedly made by VTI’s Manila Purchasing Office (MPO) sometime in 2018.
“The cashier of the MPO allegedly made illicit encashments and withdrawals through falsified and forged signed checks. The unauthorized transactions reportedly emanated from the MPO, which was then headed by the former company official who has since then been removed from his position,” the press statement of the camp of Celina Yanson said.
Reacting immediately, Norman Golez, lawyer of Leo Rey and Olivia insisted that“it is not true that SGV cleared Lopez of any liability.”
Golez clarified that “SGV’s counsel merely stated in its letter dated Sept. 10, that ‘SGV can confirm that the Report did not refer to Ms Yanson-Lopez as the person directly liable for the loss of the funds’.” He was not satisfied with SGV’s statement saying that “To put it simply, liability may be incurred by someone who either directly or indirectly participated in the offense. If SGV really cleared Celina Yanson from liability for the loss, then it shouldn’t have qualified its statement with the word directly”.
He added that “What is very clear is that during CYL’s term as treasurer/CFO, the P380 million was stolen and/or unaccounted for.”
It is true that a person who is indirectly involved may also be liable even in the smallest degree; however, should it then not follow that Leo Rey who is the president of the company and the ultimate authority in all the decisions in the company be likewise and even more liable? Did he not know what was happening in his watch since 2018 and knowing took no action? But Celina acted.
Who are the signatories in the checks? What are the processes in the issuance of checks that went elsewhere? Should not Leo Rey know about this since he has operational control of the Manila office?
We might even ask, why would Celina ask for an audit if she were liable, even indirectly? Makes no sense. The SGV report will make things clearer and we will be able to point out who was or were getting the money.
Let’s continue tomorrow.