PCGG helping US gov’t lawyers prosecute Imelda Marcos’ secretary

The Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG) said Wednesday it had been cooperating with the New York District Attorney’s (NYDA) Office since the middle of last year in connection with the investigation of Vilma Bautista.

PCGG Chairman Andres Bautista said the investigation started when the NYDA learned about the sale by Vilma Bautista, a one-time aide to former first lady Imelda Marcos, and her two nephews of a water lily painting by Claude Monet in late 2010.

“The NYDA thereafter contacted the PCGG as there appeared to have been other attempts by the defendants and their associates to sell other paintings publicly known to be missing since 1986 and claimed by the Republic  as ill-gotten wealth,” he said in a statement.

According to the PCGG chief, aside from bank accounts containing “tens of millions of dollars,” authorities in New York also seized from Bautista and her relatives on July 2011 three paintings of “internationally significant value.”

“These paintings are all included in the PCGG’s missing paintings list and have been recorded with Art Loss Register, the world’s largest private database of lost and stolen art,” Bautista said.

“This criminal trial in New York will serve an important pedagogical purpose as it would highlight the point that ‘crime does not pay’ and eventually the long arm of the law will catch up with you,” he said. Dona Z. Pazzibugan

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