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PH to get $42M Marcos fund–PCGG

/ 05:31 AM December 31, 2014
PCGG Chairman Andres Bautista AFP FILE PHOTO

PCGG Chairman Andres Bautista AFP FILE PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines–The disputed $42 million (some P1.88 billion) of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos from the so-called Arelma account may finally find its way to the National Treasury by next year.

Presidential Commission on Good Government Chair Andy Bautista on Tuesday said PCGG lawyers were drafting a request to invoke the Philippines’ Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty (MLAT) with the United States to cover the transfer of the Arelma assets from the New York County Treasury to the Bureau of the Treasury by next year.

The $42-million Arelma account, originally amounting to only $2 million, was first deposited through the Marcos dummy corporation Arelma SA with Merrill Lynch Securities in New York in 1972 in the name of a Marcos dummy foundation.

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Merrill Lynch turned over the money, which was the subject of litigation between the Republic of the Philippines and the Marcos human rights victims, to the New York County Treasury.

The lawyers of the rights abuse victims have been able to block the Philippine government from recovering the funds by laying claim to them to satisfy a $2-billion judgment that the victims had won against the Marcos estate in a US court in Hawaii.

In 2012, the Appellate Division of the New York Supreme Court found in favor of the Philippine government, leaving the decision on the forfeiture of the plundered Marcos assets to the Philippine courts.

According to Bautista, there was no longer any legal impediment to the transfer of the $42 million Arelma account to the Philippine treasury following the Supreme Court’s final and executory ruling last March forfeiting in favor of the government all the assets, properties and funds belonging to Arelma, declaring them part of the late Marcos’ ill-gotten wealth after ruling that the joint lawful income of the Marcos couple from 1966 to 1985 was only P2.3 million, or some $304,372.43.

Bautista cited a writ of execution issued by the Sandiganbayan Special Division last August for the immediate turnover of the Arelma account to the Philippine government based on the same Supreme Court ruling denying with finality all appeals raised by the Marcos family pertaining to the deposit.

“We will ask the US government, through the MLAT, to help us repatriate those assets,” Bautista said.

He said a draft of the request for the MLAT had been prepared by the PCGG, the Office of the Solicitor General and the Chief State Counsel, and was just awaiting the signature of the justice secretary. The head of the Department of Justice serves as the country’s central authority for the MLAT.

The MLAT with the United States contains a provision which requires the parties to assist each other in forfeiting fruits or instrumentalities of offenses, including money and other valuables. While the MLAT forms part of US efforts against transnational crimes, it commits the US to assisting the Philippines in its high-priority investigation into corruption, including the recovery of the late dictator’s ill-gotten wealth.

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Arelma SA is a Panamanian company organized in the principality of Liechtenstein, intended as a dummy corporation to hide the late dictator’s assets in an account with Merrill Lynch.

The initial $2 million deposit eventually grew to $42 million through the interest it accrued over 42 years.

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TAGS: Andy Bautista, Arelma account, Ferdinand Marcos, ill-gotten wealth, PCGG, Philippines
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