Olongapo SubicBay BatangGapo Newscenter

Friday, September 05, 2008

Subic hoteliers denounce operator backed by SBMA

SUBIC Bay Freeport -- A Korean-born US national also wanted for several multi-million peso estafa cases in the country was booted out as tourist hotel operator here after failing to fulfill his financial obligations with the original French-led Filipino management.

Local hoteliers Luc Helgen, a French national and former chairman and president of Subic Majestic Hotel, said the board of directors of the SMHI has taken physical possession of the hotel from Leo Hwang, president of Leoh and Leoh Int’l. Group.

The booting of Hwang came after the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority issued a memorandum stating that only legitimate stockholders that are registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission can operate in Subic.

The announcement was made by Helgen during a press briefing held at the hotel’s dining lounge where he was accompanied by SMHI acting president Eloy Pineda III, general manager Marlon Manlangit, and several other hotel crew and staff.

Helgen said Hwang was introduced to him by Raymund Siongco, Business and Marketing officer of SBMA as “high caliber investor with a very clean background.”

Because of Siongco’s assurance and insistence, SMHI agreed to sub-lease the hotel to Hwang. However, said SBMA officer managed to “switch” the direction of the deal toward the sale of stocks of Helgen instead.

Based on the agreement executed in November 2007 between SMHI and LLIG, Hwang paid Helgen US$86,000 as downpayment but it was later canceled and replaced with a US$100,000 check which bounced.

“Even the monthly contract of $4,000 as regular sub-lease payment and the $32,000 SBMA security deposit reimbursable to the Helgen have not been paid,” said Helgen.

Last Feb. 15, the majority of SMHI stockholders took over the hotel’s operation from Hwang to save the company from incurring further losses.

The stockholders’ triumph did not last long when Hwang was able to secure a court order on May 19 to retake the hotel. This, SMHI officials alleged, gave Hwang the opportunity to pocket the income of the hotel and ransack every room for furniture, appliances and equipment.

“We only discovered the looting in the hotel when one closed-van driven by Omar Quintos, Hwang employee assigned at the hotel,was intercepted by the SBMA police while trying bring out of the Freeport Gate various furnitures on June 3,” Helgen said.

Meanwhile, Pineda presented to the media a copy of a warrant for Leo Hwang issued by Judge Luis Tongco of the Regional Trial Court of Pasig City for estafa.

It was learned also that on Sept. 2007, Hwang and Kim Ji Hoon, representing the Hanaro Investment and Dev’t. Industry Corp., based in Seoul, South Korea, entered a contract where Hwang assigned the rights for the 128 housing units in Forest Hills Subdivision project.

“But after Hoon had paid Hwang US$97,204, he discovered that “SBMA has already awarded the Forest Hills to SB Philippine Development Corp., another legitimate investor,” Pineda said. By: Ruben A. Veloria - journal online

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