(Press Release) Superior Court Judge Elyze Iriarte recently dismissed the lawsuit filed by Margaret Bengzon, seeking reinstatement as Chief Executive Officer of the Guam Regional Medical City (GRMC).
In her lawsuit, Bengzon asked the Guam Courts for a return to the “status quo” before her removal, until such time as the issue of shareholder ownership of GRMC’s Philippine parent organizations are resolved by the Philippine Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).
In her decision, Judge Iriarte ruled that Bengzon “lacks standing to raise claims concerning harm to GRMC.” Bengzon is a shareholder of GRMC’s parent company, and not directly of GRMC.
While widely credited for leading the successful establishment of GRMC, Bengzon was removed from office in December 2018 as part of an enterprise takeover led by Jose Xavier Gonzales and his Singapore-based partner, the Viva Holdings/Clermont group of companies.
In November 2018, the Philippine SEC charged the Gonzales and Viva/Clermont companies with numerous violations of the country’s Securities Regulation Code (SRC), including those of fraud. The SEC found that the group may have “misrepresented their independence from each other,” as they secured majority ownership of The Medical City (TMC) to the prejudice of “unsuspecting stockholders whose share value and voting power have declined” as a result of the fraud. The SEC stated that these acts violated SRC provisions designed to protect stockholders from “fraudulent, manipulative and deceptive act(s) or practice(s)” in connection with securities transactions.
In January 2019, criminal charges of fraud were levied by the Philippine courts against these same parties.
When asked to comment, Phil Torres, Bengzon’s Guam legal counsel believes that the Guam courts will ultimately take into consideration how the Philippine SEC resolves the broader shareholder dispute involving GRMC’s parent. Torres said, “We are all eagerly awaiting the Philippine SEC’s decision regarding Gonzales and Viva’s alleged fraudulent acquisition of TMC shares which, in the end, is the final common pathway. The SEC decision will provide full and final resolution to TMC’s and GRMC’s current corporate challenges.”
Bengzon too remains optimistic and hopeful of a positive outcome in the end. She notes, “We may have experienced a temporary setback, but we are confident that the SEC will soon fairly and favorably resolve serious questions over the legitimacy of the share ownership of the Gonzales and Viva/Clermont group. I look forward to returning to GRMC and continue advancing our mission of improving health and life on Guam and in our region.”