Citibank scandal: Did Francis Bryan Ang steal the money or not?

James Ryan Jonas

Last week, Citibank Philippines reported that one of its private banking officers have gone missing and allegedly carted with him hundreds of millions of pesos worth of depositors’ money.

Francis Bryan Ang, an Assistant Vice President (AVP) of Citibank Binondo’s Citigold Wealth Management Group, is said to have stolen at least P100 million of his clients’ money. Another news report place the total amount allegedly stolen between P600 million and P1 billion.

Who is Francis Bryan Ang?

Francis Ang, 36 years old, is the eldest son of Manila councilor Bernie Ang. Francis graduated high school in 1992 from Xavier School, a premier school for Filipino-Chinese boys, in Greenhills, San Juan.

He went to UP Diliman in college and finished the degree BS Economics. He worked as a staff of former Manila Vice-Mayor Danny Lacuna and also in the private sector (in the Treasury Department of iBank, which was acquired by UnionBank).

In Citibank, his last position was Assistant Vice President for the Citigold Wealth Management unit, the high networth management group for clients with at least $100,000 account with Citibank.

How was the money allegedly stolen?

An affidavit from a Citibank’s lawyer showed that Ang forged some of his clients’ signatures in order to withdraw the money. He also is said to have changed the addresses on the bank’s system so that clients won’t receive bank statements and won’t know about the transfer of funds.

Ang also allegedly duped clients into opening time deposit accounts which turned out to be fictitious. As a private banking officer, his role is to deal directly with clients and offer them options on where to place their money. Apparently, some clients were lured by Ang to invest in high-yield time deposits. As in the case of several Legacy rural banks, it turned out that the  time deposit certificates supposedly issued by Ang were fake.

Until today, no Citibank client has come forward to complain in public. This may be expected since these clients are high-networth individuals who wouldn’t want to be in the limelight.

What’s the defense of Francis Ang?

An interesting twist to the story, meanwhile, is the claim of this Citibank AVP’s father that his son is merely being framed up.

The father, Manila councilor Bernie Ang, said that his son made known to his superiors his disappointment over some alleged bank “anomalies” and threatened to expose the same before the media if nothing is done about it. The accusation hurled against the younger Ang is merely retaliation for the alleged bombshell, according to the father.

So did he steal the money or not?

Then why is Francis Ang nowhere in sight? He will face the charges in the “proper forum and in the proper time,” according to his father. Hmmm, haven’t we heard the same line before? (Ping! Ping! Ping!)

Our advice: Ang should come out now to prove his innocence. If he does have the documents to support his allegations, he should rush to the media to present them. Better yet, file an appropriate lawsuit in court.

The longer he waits, the more people would think he is really hiding and may, in fact, be guilty. If of course he is indeed guilty, then he has no other recourse but to surrender.

Which side, for you, is telling the truth?

* Discuss this issue in the PMT forum thread Citibank exec goes missing; millions stolen

James Ryan Jonas teaches business management, investments, and entrepreneurship at the University of the Philippines (UP). He is also the Executive Director of UP Provident Fund Inc., managing and investing P3.2 Billion ($56.4 Million) worth of retirement funds on behalf of thousands of UP employees.