US envoy hands over ex-AFP comptroller’s $1.4M to Ombudsman
MANILA, Philippines—Juan dela Cruz just got an early Christmas gift from Uncle Sam.
American Ambassador Philip Goldberg handed over nearly $1.4 million in US treasury check to Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales as part of the second tranche of the seized assets of former military comptroller Carlos Garcia.
In simple rites held at the Office of the Ombudsman, Goldberg presented to Morales the check representing the net proceeds of the sale of Garcia’s unit in the ritzy The Trump Tower in Manhattan, New York.
The total amount of $1,384,940.28 also included the deposits in the two accounts owned by Garcia in Citibank branch in New York, which were discovered by the US Department of Homeland Security.
Goldberg’s predecessor, former US Ambassador Harry Thomas Jr., had previously handed over $100,000 to the Philippine government which the American customs officials confiscated from Garcia’s two sons in December 2003.
“We were very pleased… to turn over these assets of the (Filipino) people to the Ombudsman through the process of cooperation that we have together,” Goldberg said.
“This is another example of cooperation between the Philippine justice (officials) and US law enforcement community and we will continue that cooperation into the future,” he added.
The Ombudsman had brought plunder, perjury and money laundering charges against Garcia, who entered into a plea bargain agreement with the government after he pleaded guilty to the lesser offense of indirect bribery and facilitating money laundering.
Morales said the turnover of the former military official’s forfeited assets was “another victory” of the government’s anti-corruption campaign.
According to the US ambassador, the fight against corruption is a “challenge that all countries face” and that addressing the issue is “vitally important to ensure public confidence in the honesty and integrity of public servants.”
Goldberg also lauded Morales for leading the Philippine government’s efforts to curb corruption in the bureaucracy.
“The United States is very pleased to be able to assist Ombudsman Morales and her office whenever possible,” he said.
Morales expressed gratitude to the assistance of the US authorities in running after the laundered properties of erring Philippine government officials.
“This milestone in asset recovery sends the message across that raiders of public coffers can no longer hide their unexplained wealth,” she said in a statement.
“They cannot hide their dummy bank accounts, wherever located, and they cannot hide from the long arms of the law,” the Ombudsman added.