Mikey Arroyo’s wife ‘grants’ US house to firm

Mikey Arroyo’s wife ‘grants’ US house to firm
By Vera Files
Philippine Daily Inquirer

Vera Files is the work of senior journalists taking a deeper look at current issues. Vera is Latin for “true.”)

MANILA, Philippines—The controversial $1.32-million house at 1655 Beach Park Blvd. in Foster City, California, is no longer listed in the name of Angela Arroyo Montenegro, wife of Pampanga Rep. Juan Miguel “Mikey” Arroyo.

His lawyers and associates reported the transfer of the property to the name of Beachway LLC on Sept. 18, 2009, nearly three weeks after Vera Files reported the failure of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s son to declare the property in his 2007 and 2008 Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Networth (SALN).

But the lawyers and associates overlooked the fact that they were reporting a transaction two years late, inadvertently drawing attention to Arroyo’s failure to report the property in his July 2007 SALN.

Documents show that Angela requested the San Mateo County assessor to record the “grant” of the five-bedroom, two-story house in Foster City to Beachway LLC (limited liability company) only on Sept. 18, 2009. Vera Files first broke the story on Aug. 31, 2009.

[LLCs in the United States are small businesses similar to single proprietorships in the Philippines and can be set up even with just one person as shareholder. “A properly formed limited liability company creates a legally enforceable layer of protection between you personally and your business,” said the LLC Expert, a website specializing in the setting up of LLCs.]

2 years after

The deed that Angela submitted to the assessor’s office (Document No. 2009-125647) states that she granted Beachway the Foster City property “for a valuable consideration” on Oct. 29, 2007. In other words, she said she sold the property to Beachway in October 2007, or nearly two years before she reported the transaction.

Arroyo’s former chief of staff, Antonio Mariano Almeda, confirmed he was in the United States last year “to make sure that the transfer was effected” because of the controversy. “It’s above board. (There is) nothing to hide, nothing illegal,” he said in an interview.

Lawyer Ruy Rondain, whom Arroyo hired after the controversy over the property broke out, was also in San Francisco, California, last year to help put the couple’s records in order, according to US-based Filipino lawyers.

Rondain, in a phone interview last week, said: “I met with someone about the properties. I examined the records with the broker. That’s all. I don’t have the expertise. That’s California law.”

Not in July 2007 SALN

Although the latest filing means that Arroyo need not declare ownership of the property in his December 2007 and December 2008 SALNs, he was still required to report this in the July 2007 SALN he filed upon his reelection as representative of Pampanga’s second district because the property was still in his wife’s name. His July 2007 SALN shows he did not.

The transfer was Arroyo’s explanation for not declaring the beachfront property in his December 2007 and 2008 SALNs as reported by Vera Files.

The law mandates all public officials to include in the annual declarations all property and business interests that they, their spouses and children under 18 own.

Donations, wedding gifts

Arroyo previously said and then denied that his wealth, including the real property he has acquired and the businesses he has formed since his election to public office, came from campaign contributions and wedding gifts.

He later said he had married an “independently wealthy” woman to justify the jump in his net worth after Vera Files found that his statement of contributions and expenses for the 2004 and 2007 campaigns showed him receiving no donations of any kind.

Arroyo and his lawyer Rondain subsequently produced a supplemental SALN in 2003 to show he reported the increase in his net worth after his marriage to his cousin Angela in 2002. He was vice governor then.

But Vera Files found that neither the Office of the Ombudsman nor the Pampanga provincial capitol has a record of the supplemental declaration.

Party-list nominee

Arroyo is not running for reelection in May to give way to his mother, who has made the unprecedented move of an outgoing president running for a congressional seat. He is, however, a nominee of party-list Ang Galing Pinoy, according to Bacolor, Pampanga Mayor Buddy Dungca.

The 2007 grant deed signed by Angela shows that the California firm that Arroyo says he co-owns is Beachway LLC, not “Beach Way Park” as he consistently reported in his December 2007 and December 2008 SALNs.

Also attached to Angela’s recording request to the San Mateo County was an “Illegible Notary Seal Declaration” providing details of the notary seal that appears on the deed.

The declaration, executed in Redwood City, California, on Sept. 28, 2009, and with handwritten entries, identifies the notary (E.S. Villanueva), his commission number (1463496), the date the commission expires (Jan. 17, 2008), and the county and state (San Francisco, California).

Compared with similar transactions they had done in the past, it took the Arroyo couple an uncharacteristically long time to report to the assessor’s office the transfer of the Foster City property to Beachway LLC.

When they bought their three-bedroom unit at Manors Condominium at 805 Mendocino Way in Redwood City on Sept. 25, 2005, the purchase was reported to the San Mateo County Assessor four days later on Sept. 29, 2005.

Transfer to spouse

It was also the same day they reported the interspousal transfer of the property, from Arroyo to his wife.

A request for the assessor to record the acquisition of the Foster City house and lot, made on Aug. 10, 2006, was filed on Aug. 23, 2006, the same day the interspousal transfer was reported to the county office.

Even mortgage transactions on the two pieces of property were reported to San Mateo County assessor within one to two weeks these were made.

“It (The Foster City property) was sold to Beachway a long time ago. I don’t know why it was not transferred right away by the American lawyers. It’s their job,” Rondain said.

Arroyo also got the name of his own company wrong. His SALN for December 2007 and December 2008 lists him as owning shares in “Beach Way Park,” and not Beachway LLC.

His SALNs do not state when Beachway was formed. It only had the firm’s address—“Beach Park Blvd., California.”

Records show that Paracorp Inc. registered Beachway LLC with the California secretary of state in Sacramento on Sept. 27, 2007. Paracorp resigned as Beachway’s agent the following year.

On Oct. 6, 2009, three weeks after Angela requested the San Mateo County to record the transfer of the Foster City property, Beachway filed a statement of information with the California secretary of state listing Almeda as one of its managers; Albert Mac Rogers Jr. as its agent; and real estate investment as its type of business.

Three days later, it filed a certificate of amendment to report that the company would be managed by all its members instead of one manager.

Both documents do not provide data on Beachway’s other members or managers. Almeda declined to name them, saying only, “I’m representing the investors” and that Arroyo has minority shares.

Arroyo said in a television program last year that he owned “about 20 to 30 percent, 40 something, like that.” Ellen Tordesillas, Avigail Olarte, Yvonne Chua and Luz Rimban

Karen Ang

A plebeian who is trying to make small changes in this world.