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Sunday, February 24, 2008

NEWS: Bank urged to be vigilant in verification of titles

The Consumer Union of the Philippines (CUP) has expressed dismay over the reported P 389 million peso loan fiasco involving titles which victimized the Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP) and urged banks to reform their title verification and loan releasing processes.

In an earlier reports, a savings bank using allegedly spurious documents and highly questionable titles, obtained in a P 389 million pesos in loans from the DBP sourced from the Industrial Guarantee and Loan Fund (IGLF) jointly funded by the USAID, World Bank and Asian Development Bank. The suspicious nature of these documents was apparently discovered only much later after the loan had already been released and the Bangko Sentral conducted an examination of the bank's loan portfolio.

The CUP chairman Ambassador Raul Goco, a former solicitor-general, said this deplorable incident and many other similar cases over the years highlight the dangerous inadequacies of banks in filtering out dubious titles submitted as collateral for loans.

In view of these incidents and banking system's abnormally high inventory of non-performing loans (NPL) at some P 150 million peso, and other Real and Other Properties Acquired (ROPAs) currently amounting to more than P 250 billion pesos Goco said banks should immediately reform their lending procedures, as loans collateralized by dubious titles are never meant to be repaid in the first place.

The banks' disclaimers in the sale of their ROPOAs, which is practically disavow title authenticity, Goco said, amount to an admission of their failure to comply with the Supreme Court's rule requiring banks to have a much higher degree of diligence in verifying titles, beyond the standard "due diligence" practiced by ordinary dealers in the real property.

"From the many cases we have reviewed, it is only after the borrower has already absconded or failed to pay the loan that the banks discover the fake or fraudulent titles they have accepted as collateral", Goco said.

CUP President Quirino Marquinez, a practicing lawyer, said that for as long as banks continue with their present cursory title verification process conducted by their in-house appraisers or credit investigators, they will remain the principal target of fake titles syndicates.

Marquinez said these will preclude collusion between fake title syndicates and bank insiders, even as the use if independent, government-recognized title verifiers will ensure objective, non-self-serving, influence-free and transparent findings about the title, upon which any party - not just the lender, borrower or buyer - may rely.

The CUP urged banks to immediately subject titles covering their NPLs to a thorough verification process by third party independent verifiers so that should fake titles be discovered, appropriate action may be taken while they still can against the parties responsible, and immediately subject all ROPAs to the same process so that appropriate adjustments may be made in the bank's financial statement to reflect the factual values of said ROPAs for the general public to know.

Source: Manila Bulletin (February 24, 2008)
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