PSE: Nothing to do with SSS controversy

THE Philippine Stock Exchange (PSE) Inc. said it has nothing to do with the self-dealing controversy involving the Social Security System (SSS), whose officials were accused of self-dealing with the state-owned pension fund’s investments, including those lodged in the equities market.

“We have nothing to do with it [the SSS controversy],” PSE President Ramon S. Monzon said in a chance interview. “It’s between the SSS and whoever the brokers are.”

SSS Chairman Dean Amado O. Valdez has promised a full and fair investigation and assured the fund’s members their investment funds are intact.

Valdez, however, acknowledged that, based on initial details provided by Commissioner Jose Gabriel M. La Viña, “there could be a clear conflict of interest committed by some officials if they are found to have tapped the SSS’s accredited stock brokers to advise them on their alleged personal trades in the market.”

PSE COO Roel A. Refran said in an interview the exchange is still waiting for the internal investigation being conducted by the SSS management itself before they can do anything.

“I don’t know if they [SSS] have prohibition on trading. Because we at the PSE, we have prohibition on trading because we are insiders. Normally, insiders are prohibited because of the access to information,” Refran said. “I also do not know if they do [have insider information], as they have contacts with the [listed] companies. The ball is in their [SSS] court. For us, we cannot do anything right now.” La Viña, in his administrative complaint, accused SSS Executive Vice President for Investments Rizaldy Capulong and three others of serious dishonesty and grave misconduct.

The others named were Equities Division Chief Reginald Candelaria, Equities Product Development head Ernesto Francisco and Chief Actuary George Ongkeko Jr.

Capulong, Candelaria and Francisco allegedly acted on the advice given by the SSS-accredited stock brokers and used the information for personal trades, such as to buy and sell stocks and earn profits using information that otherwise should have been used to grow the SSS investments.

Ongkeko, meanwhile, was included by La Viña for his alleged neglect in keeping records of the trades allegedly done by the three others.

So far, no SSS money was stolen, but the acts, if found true, could represent substantial opportunity loss for the state-run pension fund of private workers, according to those pushing for the investigation.