Estrada denies hand in BW Resources investigation

President Estrada dismisses suggestions he tried to help long-time ally Dante Tan avoid implication in the BW Resources share trading saga.

President Joseph Estrada of the Philippines has denied trying to intercede on a friend's behalf in the investigation of share trading in gaming group, BW Resources. The president, who is facing mounting calls to resign, had previously been accused of trying to clear Dante Tan, a close friend and former presidential adviser, of any wrongdoing in respect of the matter. Tan has been implicated in probes conducted by both the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Philippine Stock Exchange.á

"After the report was completed, PSE president Jose Luis Yulo and PSE Compliance and Surveillance Group (CSG) chief Ruben Almadro came to my office and informed me that Dante Tan was involved. My reply to them: Make the report public and prosecute Mr Tan," Estrada said in a letter to the Asian Wall Street Journal.á

"The PSE refused to make the report public. The Court of Appeals issued an injunction to stop the filing of charges against those identified by CSG as culpable," he added.á

Perfecto Yasay, who until late March was chairman of the SEC, said President Estrada requested four times towards the end of 1999 he drop his investigation into the trading of BW Resources shares and clear Tan of any wrongdoing. Yasay added his refusal to comply with the president's demands resulted in an agreement he would step down from his post.

In early March, the PSE's CSG unit resigned en masse in protest against PSE attempts to whitewash the BW Resources share trading scandal by exonerating parties identified in the CSG report. Estrada says the blame for delays in the BW Resources investigation lies squarely with the PSE.

BW Resources share price in 1999 rose from a low of Ps1.76á on January 12 to a high of Ps107.00 oná October 11. Since this peak, the price collapsed as far down as Ps2.75á and last traded at Ps6.35 .


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