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Would big business corruption follow the AFP mess?

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Readers of my “PINOY WEEKLY” column and its online version on GlobalBalita.com convey a growing impatience that President Aquino’s war on graft and corruption is caught in an old cliché that the more he announces changes, the more things remain the same.

There’s also a growing feeling that members of the administration are afraid to innovate. For instance, a Cabinet member relying only only educational attainment without administrative experience easily succumbs to the status quo and becomes highly dependent on career bureaucrats. The fear to innovate stems largely from fear of the media to be denied of the credit for success or all the blame if they fail.

The President should get out of the confines of his advisers whether they’re relatives, former classmates or close friends. Sad to say, his options for policy-making and solutions to problems are too tilted towards legal perspectives. Secretary Paquito Ochoa reportedly guards access to the President zealously when his real world experience is limited to former position of QC Hall administrative officer while his legal perspective dominates Malacañang thinking even on purely economic and financial matters.

Sufficient resources should be devoted to fight the war on G&C with reforms and better experienced staffing from top to bottom not afraid to innovate with the latest international anticorruption strategies and tools, not by creating a new agency. Presidential advisers especially lawyers seem convinced fighting the war can be confined in the corrupt Philippine justice system. They either ignore or don’t know the UNCAC and other anticorruption international agreements.

My colleagues and I can’t understand, for instance, why after six months of the Aquino administration, there’ve been no changes in its anti-G&C efforts as though GMA’s policies still prevail. No government agency especially concerned with fighting G&C or individual initiative has drawn on the anticorruption studies, research and experience of the Philippine Anticorruption Movement USA, Inc. (Pamusa). Nobody has tested if Pamusa can really work with, submit G&C evidence to the FBI and draw support of the USDOJ and other federal agencies to search and recover the assets stolen by past and current Filipinos where the bulk is hidden in the U.S. Pamusa has also been waiting for said agencies to utilize it in asking U.S. federal agencies or their foreign counterparts, for instance, in China required by the UNCAC’ international cooperation provisions (UNCAC-ICP), particularly these excerpts, to wit:

“Countries agreed to cooperate with one another in every aspect of the fight against corruption, including prevention, investigation, and the prosecution of offenders. Countries are bound by the Convention to render specific forms of mutual legal assistance in gathering and transferring evidence for use in court, to extradite offenders. Countries are also required to undertake measures which will support the tracing, freezing, seizure and confiscation of the proceeds of corruption.”

If only to satisfy his curiosity about the bureaucracy’s speed to wage the war against G&C the President should check how many tax-evasion cases have been filed in court by DOJ prosecutors from his inauguration or the date charges were announced to the media in July onward by the BIR, BOC and DOF. Since tax evasion reverberates nationwide and can be the base to broaden G&C cases that usually include money laundering, bribery, smuggling, illegal gambling (jueteng), drug trafficking, the President can calculate the length of time he could stop G&C he’d promised the Filipino people, or minimize its burden he’d pass on to his successor.

It’s imperative to effectively address G&C forthwith as evidence is found, not next month or until a new agency is created. The President would thus provide an advantage for the presidential candidate he’d endorse in 2016. Or, his failure like GMA’s would be a kiss of death for his candidate.

Sad to say, at the speed G&C cases are processed in the country’s judicial system and the legal defense put along the way make it doubtful if the administration lawyers could nail down “big fishes” that have violated the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, let alone the Anti-Plunder Law without collateral actions under the UNCAP-ICP and companion anticorruption international agreements such as the “StAR” (Stolen Assets Recovery) Initiative launched recently by the World Bank and the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), the implementing office of the UNCAC.

Let me clarify to all that Pamusa is a California nonprofit corporation, hence a U.S. entity, and ready to commence recovery of the proceeds of G&C hidden in the U.S. and elsewhere overseas. Pamusa has been throughout its existence depends on volunteer counsels and a network of informants composed of retired government officials, close associates double-crossed by their “big-fish” partners dividing the proceeds of illegal deals, and disgruntled members of conspiracies in the homeland.

For starters, Pamusa can sue Lucio Tan for corrupt practices in the U.S. according to our volunteer counsels. Lucio could be indicted for corporate and accounting scandals which could end the web of corruption he has woven around himself. We have evidence against Lucio to be like several CEOs of U.S. conglomerates such as Enron, Worldcom, Adelphia, TYCO, etc. sentenced to jail for corporate crimes, or pay millions of dollars of fines like foreign companies, e.g. Deutsch Bank, Siemens AG, Union Bank of Switzerland, Daimler AG (maker of Mercedes Benz), etc. to stop U.S. criminal investigation and possible prosecution of top officers.

Pamusa’s volunteer lawyers agree Lucio is now in a ditch. The PCGG can charge him through Pamusa in the U.S. and/or China of corrupt practices emerging out of the application for the proposed Allied Bank-PNB merger in the U.S. Lucio’s counsel probably overlooked that the application would lead U.S. banking regulators to look deeper into the two banks’ ownership before approval is granted. One condition is for Allied to divest of controlling equity in a small San Francisco bank, Oceanic Bank.

After waiting for several months the buyer John K.C. Ng, father-in-law of Lucio’s son, Michael, withdrew his offer. Although he gave a different reason, Ng presumably withdrew not wanting to be embroiled in Allied using Oceanic to launder money earned by the Marcos’ companies Lucio usurped but claimed by PCGG now pending in the Sandiganbayan.

Lucio as Allied chairman, among his other management positions such as in PAL, could probably be indicted for at least four (4) serious U.S. crimes, namely: money laundering abovementioned; racketeering for investing illegal funds of Marcos-owned or controlled corporations; foreign corrupt practices for investing illegal funds of the same Marcos-owned or controlled corporations and, of course, conspiracy with others to violate U.S. laws.

Pamusa’s volunteer counsels believe that to really nail Lucio the administration shouldn’t spare efforts for the SC to allow Lucio’s brother, Mariano Tanenglian, to testify and confirm Marcos’ ownership of the companies claimed by the PCGG. And when Lucio falls, others would follow such as Imelda Marcos, her children and brother, Kokoy Romualdez whose $101 million personal net worth in 2010 according to Forbes Magazine could’ve come only from Marcos’ ill-gotten wealth allegedly shared with GMA for her protection against PCGG seizure. As another consequnce, PCGG would enhance its claim to recover Marcos’ equities in companies he showered with government favors now “owned” by Henry Sy, John Gokongwei, Emilio Yap (who usurped Manila Bulletin), etc.

Moreover, I can say without fear of contradiction that Pamusa can recover the single-unit apartment of 2-bathroom at New York’s Trump Tower costing over $3.3 million acquired by Gen. Carlos Garcia allegedly for Gen. Angelo Reyes. Pamusa can seek the help of the USDOJ, Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) and FBI to sue Gen. and Mrs. Garcia, their children and the Trump Tower to recover for the Philippine Government the apartment, the $100,000.00 in cash smuggled by Garcia’s children into the U.S., and their other illicit assets in America.

In fact, Pamusa can seek Garcia’s extradition to stand trial in the U.S. for committing serious U.S. crimes such as laundering the said $100,000.00 and probably more that could’ve come only from him smuggled into the U.S. by his sons, racketeering for Mrs. Garcia’s and sons’ investment of illegal funds in U.S. real estate and other assets, conspiracy of the family members with John Does to violate U.S. laws, etc. a few of which Mrs. Garcia and sons have already admitted in U.S. court.

It’s far better and more expeditious for Pamusa to initiate action in the U.S. against the Garcias than the Solgen petitioning the Supreme Court to reverse the general’s plea bargain. Pamusa only needs to be named the DOJ’s and/or PCGG’s attorney-in-fact in the search and recovery of the Garcias’ ill-gotten assets and other Filipinos as well as ex-Filipinos wherever they may be hidden pursuant to the UNCAC-ICP and the StAR Initiative’s promised assistance.

We expect many more will follow who cannot justify the statistically improbable growth of their corporate assets and personal net worth from Marcos time to GMA’s presidency. They would be subjected to the U.S. and other nations’ forensic audit required by the UNCAC-ICP in tracing, freezing, seizure and confiscation of the proceeds of corruption through the latest transnational methods of recovering stolen assets, to wit:

1. The WB-prescribed “A Practitioner’s Handbook on Tracing Stolen Assets” includes Dave Melton’s book of “Accounting Guide to Asset Tracing.” The book defines asset-search in the context of divorce proceedings as “an accounting process that traces an asset from its separate property beginning through all its mutations and demonstrates that the resulting asset in existence of the date of divorce is either separate, marital, or a combination of both.

2. Forensic audit by, say, SGV to trace from agreed baselines such as income tax returns (ITRs), statements of assets, liabilities and net worth (SALNs), other personal and corporate financial reports if the growth of assets or net worth were within the realm of statistical probability, or by “a process of series of actions through which income of illegal origin is concealed, disguised, or made to appear legitimate (main objective), and to evade detection, prosecution, and taxation.”

All of them would naturally avoid being sued for corrupt practices in the U.S. and/or China for the enormous legal cost it will entail and unforeseen consequences such as jail sentence. More so, by the WB-sponsored International Corruption Hunters Alliance (ICHA), which in their December meeting attended by Sec. Leila de Lima, her Usec Jose Vicente Salazar and me, has declared war against corruption wherever it exists.

Thus, the ICHA is a worldwide army of corruption hunters coordinated by the StAR (Stolen Assets Recovery) Initiative of the WB and UNODC.

By Frank Wenceslao




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