SSS exec resigns amid profiteering raps


SSS building

A ranking official of the Social Security System (SSS) tendered his resignation on Wednesday amid a complaint lodged against him and other key members of the investment unit of the state-administered pension fund.

SSS chair Amado Valdez said in a text message that equities investment division chief Reginald Candelaria resigned “but without prejudice to the investigation and subject to clearances.”

He added that chief actuary George Ongkeko Jr. also tendered his resignation, but its acceptance was “deferred until December” pending the completion of his advisory work.

Candelaria and Ongkeko were among four key officials who were earlier reassigned by SSS. They were involved in managing the pension fund’s P500-billion portfolio amid allegations that they had improperly benefited from their positions by trading personal stock market accounts.

READ: Campos wants NBI, Ombudsman to conduct parallel probe on SSS fiasco

The two other officials ordered relieved were vice president for investments Rizaldy Capulong and equities product development head Ernesto Francisco Jr.

They are facing ongoing investigation surrounding their investments in shares of stock.

“They were assigned to the office of the president on floating status,” Valdez said.

Earlier this week, SSS commissioner Jose Gabriel La Viña accused the officials of “serious dishonesty and grave misconduct”, having filed an official complaint with the pension fund’s board a week prior.

In particular, La Viña alleged that Candelaria and Francisco vetted each other’s personal stock trades with each other, which was then approved by Capulong, as required by the institution’s rules, but noted that all three officials were in a conflict of interest situation because they transacted with stockbrokers which they had also cleared to trade on behalf of SSS.

Ongkeko, meanwhile, was remiss in his role of providing a complete set of records of the trades of the investment officers, La Viña said.

Valdez said that the pension fund’s large investment portfolio will temporarily be handled by the organization’s head of internal audit, who was also ordered to “seal records” to aid in the ongoing probe.

The Inquirer had earlier sought the side of the accused SSS officials, but received no reply, except for Francisco who declined to comment citing sub judice rules, since the complaint was already pending before the Social Security Commission – the fund’s highest policy making body. The head of SSS’ union, for his part, asked that the probe be conducted more circumspectly to spare the officials from “trial by publicity”.

Meanwhile, the SSS on Wednesday assured its members that “it has institutionalized procedures to address administrative complaints.”

“Such mechanisms ensure all parties are given due process,” it said in a press statement, adding that the probe into the activities of the officials will not affect the pensions and benefits of its 35 million members from the private sector.

“SSS guarantees its members that the Investment Reserve Fund, which came from members’ contributions and investment income, is intact and well-protected,” it said.

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