News Column

P40M WITHDRAWN FROM NAPOLES' FROZEN BANK ACCOUNT

June 20, 2014

By Jaime R. Pilapil, The Manila Times, Philippines



June 20--AMID MalacaÑang's assurances that the government will do everything to recover the loot of persons involved in the pork barrel scam, a Manila court discovered on Thursday that P40 million was withdrawn from the bank account of Janet Lim-Napoles and her cohorts.

The bank deposit was previously covered by a freeze order issued by Manila Regional Trial Court Branch 22 Judge Marino dela Cruz Jr. The court found out that the withdrawals from the bank account of First Integrated Bonding and Insurance Inc. (FIBI) were made at an unnamed branch of the United Coconut Planters Bank (UCPB) after May 26, 2014, the date the freeze order lapsed. Napoles was a stockholder of FIBI. When the judge issued the court order, the FIBI account had more than P49 million.

There are four remaining active FIBI accounts with the following deposits: P8,914,363.64, P1,000.82, P102,406.21 and P6,674.40. The FIBI bank accounts are linked to the accounts of Pangkabuhayan Foundation Inc., where Napoles is listed as officer, along with a certain Patricia Tan.

The disappearance of the money angered dela Cruz, who ordered the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) to explain why it did not move fast to ask for the issuance of another Provisional Asset Preservation Order (PAPO) before the freeze order of the bank account expired. A PAPO is good for only 20 days.

The judge also directed UCPB to submit records of the bank transactions to the court.

The first PAPO was issued in February. It was extended until May.

The court issued another freeze order on June 6, 2014, covering the bank accounts of 19 individual respondents deposited in six banks--LandBank, East West Bank, Security Bank, Metrobank, Bank of Philippine Islands and United Coconut Planters Bank.

Also, during a hearing on Wednesday, it was learned that the account of former Rep. Samuel Dangwa in Landbank only had P26,770,472. Before the freeze order was issued, the account had P54,467,825.

The June 6 freeze order issued by the court also covered the Metrobank account of a certain Washington Plaza totaling about P37 million, the account of Gigi Reyes in East West Bank that has P21,213,500, and the deposits of Paulene Theresa Mary Labayen, Roderick Eheun Reyes, Alfonso Garcia Napoles, Adelina Garcia Napoles, Caesar Ronnie Fernandez Ordoyo, Catherine Mae Canlas Santos, Kristina Santos, Jose Emmanuel Lim, Pedro Dumon Sepulveda Jr., Florentina Seachon Sepulveda and FIBI. The court issued the freeze order because these bank accounts were believed used as conduit to launder funds or proceeds from the pork barrel scam.

It surmised that the owners of the bank accounts in question have no legitimate sources of income or their transactions/deposits are not in proportion to their legitimate sources of income.

Dela Cruz said the court found probable cause that these bank accounts were related to unlawful activities that might constitute plunder or malversation of public funds.

Justice Secretary Leila de Lima said she will find out why such a big amount was withdrawn and what remedies the government can resort to.

"It's very difficult to make a judgment on that. Let me first find out exactly the circumstances. [I will try to know] from both the OSG and AMLC [Anti-Money Laundering Council] [why that happened]. In any case, I will also discuss it with them. I'm sure [that there is a remedy to that]," de Lima added.

"[I will also try to know] where exactly is the lapse, which office [committed a lapse] but we will definitely take it up," she said.

Also on Thursday, the UCPB said it allowed withdrawals from the FIBI account because these were cleared by the AMLC. It added that the P39.7 million was withdrawn as payment for FIBI's back-toback loans with UCPB.

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(c)2014 The Manila Times (Manila, Philippines)

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Distributed by MCT Information Services


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Source: Manila Times (Phillipines)


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