It’s legal

Published June 6, 2019, 12:00 AM

by manilabulletin_admin

Fil C. Sionil
Fil C. Sionil

Last week, I mentioned that the appointment of Mr. Sanjiv Vohra as Security Bank’s president and chief executive officer effective July 1, 2019, is a precedent. It’s “subject to regulatory approvals.”

For sure Security Bank’s legal luminaries have prudently conducted a study on its legality because this is the first time in the history of the domestic banking industry for a foreigner to be steering a local lender. The prevailing question is: Will the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) give its stamp of approval? Security Bank is given 10 days upon disclosure to submit Mr. Sanjiv’s appointment for authorities’ affirmation.

Indeed, there was. My A-1 source tells me. “Prior to the disclosure, there were consultations.” Thus, the answer for the unbelievers is a resounding yes! Foreign nationals are now permitted to head domestic banks and financial institutions based on the ruling of the Department of Justice (DOJ). Since foreign firms and/or foreign investors can now fully own, 100 percent, under the Foreign Banks Liberalization Act, local banks and financial institutions are now exempted from the coverage of the Anti-Dummy Law. Before this, the grandfather rule (60-40 ratio) prevailed.

My neighbor, Monetary Board Member Atty. Jun de Zuniga, has extensively wrote on this in his October 28, 2017, column Across the Board Room. Here’s an excerpt from his piece: “The gist of the opinion of the Department of Justice stating that ‘certain banking activities involving the entry and operation of foreign banks in the Philippine banking system may be deemed to have been taken out of the coverage of the Anti-Dummy Law, thereby, dispensing the need for the prior authorization of the Department with respect to the employment of foreign nationals.’”

Welcome back to PH, Mr. Sanjiv. With the appointment of his successor no longer problematic as some believed it to be, Mr. Alfonso “Yogi” Salcedo, Jr. may now heave a sigh of relief. His friends and senior officers at the bank have been ribbing him on his quest of having a six-pack abs. With a tinge of contrition and in reaction to my last week’s piece, this I received from him. “Now, I really have to work on my six-pack abs,” one of the three in his bucket list.

I heard from banking corridors that the country officer of a foreign bank is considering retiring as well. Security Bank emissary offered him to be a director. As he was negotiating for his impending retirement, the bad news was it was refused. The European-based management “did not want to let him go and instead offered him a two-year extension!” Hint: Although he has been with the foreign lender since 1995, his appointment as the chief country officer was disclosed 16 years ago to this date, June 7, 2003.

Still on the movement issue: The BSP is likewise at it. Instituted by the late BSP Gov. Nesting A. Espenilla, successor former Budget Secretary Benjamin E. Diokno has committed to continue the talent optimization program, a rationalization program aimed to further hone the work force’s talents by moving or transferring them in areas, sectors, sub-sectors, and departments to enhance and widen their perspective on BSP’s operations.

Latest I’ve gathered is that Zeeno Abenoja, may be recalled from his post as BSP’s representative to the International Monetary Fund in Washington. Mr. Zeeno was the director of the Department of Economic Research before he went to Washington. There’s a possibility and probability that Mr. Zeeno may head the monetary policy sub-sector that will be vacated by Assistant Gov. Francis Dakila. As announced by the governor in April, Dr. Francis will take the helm of the Monetary and Economic Sector with the retirement of Deputy Gov. Diwa Guinigundo. Is it serendipity? DG Diwa turns 65 on the eve of the 26th anniversary of the revitalized BSP.

Also part of the rationalization, a memorandum was issued last week of May reverting the Corporate Affairs (CORAO) and the Investors Relations Office (IRO) back under the Office of the Governor. Prior to this, both CORAO and IRO were a sub-sector of MES under the supervision of Assistant Gov. Rowena Santiago. IRO has a new officer-in-charge, Rosabel “Bong” Guerrero, following the early retirement of Atty. Elvira Victoria “Evie” Medina-Navarro in May.
Promise to keep you posted on the turning of the banking wheel.

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