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Bacolod City, Philippines Thursday, April 12, 2012
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COA-SM links -2


Yesterday I wrote that, based on its company profile, COA chairperson, Maria Gracia Pulido-Tan is a founding partner of the Tan Venturanza Valdez law firm and one of the partners is A. Bayani Tan, the COA chair’s husband who is the managing partner of the firm. The husband and wife are thus original members and, as the records show, remain so to this day. This firm was founded in 1988 with international links, a  well-established law firm indeed.

She was undersecretary of finance for revenue collections until February 15, 2005. Significantly, she is “currently consulting for the Ministry of Finance of the People’s Republic of China’s Tax Policy and Administration project under the auspices of the Asian Development Bank,” the company background information says.

I find this questionable that a Philippine constitutional officer is concurrently working for a foreign government even under international banking auspices. Since the document is dated February 14, 2012, this is recent information. Has she resigned from this consultancy or was she given permission by the Philippine government to work for the interest of a foreign government?

The Tan Venturanza Valdez Law Offices is the Legal Counsel of Pacific Online, a lotto gaming company whose mother company is Belle Corporation. Pulido-Tan’s husband, A. Bayani K. Tan is also the corporate secretary of Pacific Online and other Belle Corporation affiliate companies.

Pacific Online is only one of the dozens of corporations under Belle Corporation. So that we can understand the labyrinth of intertwining financial and professional relationships, let’s take a look at Belle Corporation which was incorporated in 1973 but has expanded into numerous corporations of which A. Bayani K. Tan is professionally and financially involved.

Among the top officials of Belle Corporation is the COA chair’s husband. He is Corporate Secretary and Compliance Officer, and in several other corporations controlled by Belle Corp. This corporation, among others, is engaged in “high-end real estate products (which) are sold principally to the A and B property segment markets. “Property development has been Belle’s historical core business area,” company information says.

The list of Belle Corporation’s companies and projects are among the country’s top real estate.

Does the Provincial Capitol lot fall under this kind of product? Here is something interesting.

“In general, Belle competes with developers such Ayala Land… with respect to its residential and subdivision projects. Some of these developers, like Ayala Land, are bigger in size than Belle.  Nevertheless, Belle is able to effectively compete with the above companies primarily on the basis of its product quality and reliability to deliver as promised.” Shall we add influence as well?

“Reliability to deliver as promised” makes Belle better. Is using means to delay Ayala from “reliability to deliver as promised” part of Belle’s corporate war plans, undermining Ayala Land in this deal that, with the governor at his wits end can make Ayala Land give up the project or dissuade Ayala from developing the area?

I had been citing Belle Corporation, but what is its relationship or link with COA chair Pulido-Tan and husband?

I have cited that the legal counsel of Belle Corporation is the Tan Venturanza Valdez Law Office and that Pulido-Tan and husband are its founding partners. Since the data is of mid-February this year then this close professional link between Belle and Tan, husband and wife remains. In fact the husband is the corporate secretary of Belle.

What are the companies of Belle? According to its own list, the affiliates of Belle are Highland Prime Inc. controlled by Hans Sy, SM Investments Corporation also Hans Sy, SinoPhil Corporation controlled by Hans Sy, Bayani Tan and Albee Benitez. As to Benitez I will deal with this later.

Also under Belle is Pacific Online Systems Corporation which is linked to Albee Benitez and Tan; Tagaytay Midlands Golf Club, The Country Club at Tagaytay, and APC Group Inc. which are controlled by Hans Sy and linked with Bayani Tan. To recall, the law office of the spouses Tan is not only the legal counsel of these companies under Belle but Bayani Tan is the corporate secretary.

On October 11, 2011, Jason C. Nalupta, Belle Corporation Information Officer filed before the Philippine Stock Exchange, Inc. the list of the top 100 shareholders of Belle Corporation as of September 30, 2011.

The shareholders of initial interest to the present discussion are: SM Commercial Properties, Inc.; Sysmart Corporation; SM Development Corp; Equity Investments Corporation; Hans T. Sy; Wilson L. Sy; BDO Strategic Holdings, Inc.; Henry Sy, Sr.; another set of shares in the name of Hans Sy; and A. Bayani K. Tan.

According to his executive profile Hans Sy, classmate of Bayani Tan in grade school at Xavier School, is president, director of SM Prime Holdings, Inc, the losing bidder in the Capitol lot. We will continue next week.*



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