MANILA (Mabuhay) — After freezing more than 400 bank accounts connected to detained “pork barrel scam” suspect Janet Lim Napoles, the Court of Appeals (CA) has formally authorized the government to open and scrutinize these accounts.
In a 24-page resolution, the appeals court’s Second Division gave the Anti-Money Laundering Council five months to conduct a “bank inquiry” and examine some 430 bank accounts of Napoles, her relatives, employees, and her non-government organizations (NGOs).
“Wherefore, herein application for bank inquiry is granted. The Anti Money Laundering Council is authorized to Inquire into or examine, for a period of 5 months herefrom,” the CA Division said.
The AMLC is required to submit a report to the CA within 10 from the expiration of the five-month period of bank inquiry.
“Further, the AMLC is directed to submit a report to this Court within 10 days from the expiration of the said 5 month period to make such examination and/or inquiry,” the CA said.
The ruling was penned by Associate Justice Normandie Pizarro and concurred with by Justices Remedios Salazar-Fernando and Danton Bueser.
Napoles allegedly runs non-existent foundations used to funnel some P10 billion from lawmakers’ Priority Development Fund for around a decade. Napoles and the lawmakers allegedly split the money once they are released.
Aside from Napoles also covered by the bank scrutiny order were the bank accounts of her husband Jaime Napoles, children Jo Christine, James Christopher, John Christian, Jeane and Jane Napoles, as well as his brother Reynald “Jojo” Lim.
Napoles and Lim are both facing separate illegal detention charges over their supposed illegal detention of Benhur Luy, a former employee of Napoles at her JLN Corp who turned into a whistleblower in the pork barrel fund mess.
Napoles surrendered to President Benigno Aquino III in the Palace last Wednesday then was brought to Camp Crame before being transferred to the Makati City Jail late Thursday night.
Also covered are the bank accounts of Luy, his mother Gertrudes and Arthur Luy, as well other JLN employees including Merlina Sunas, Evelyn Ditchon De Leon, Marina Sula, Nova Kaye Dulay Batal, Ronald Lim and Simonette Briones.
Meanwhile, the NGOs covered by the AMLC examination are bank accounts of Abundan Harvest For People’s Foundation Inc, Agricultura Para sa Magbubukid Foundation, Bukirin Tanglaw Foundation, Countrywide Agricultural and Rural Economic Development Foundation, A Smile Foundaition, JCLN Global Properties Devt. Corp., JCLN Real Estate Consortium Inc., JLN Construction and Devt. Corp., JLN Corp. Jo-Christine Trading and ZNAC Rubber Estate Corp.
Among the banks covered by the bank inquiry are Hongkong and Shanghai Bank, Citibank, Bank of the Philippine Islands, Land Bank of the Philippines, Banco De Oro, Insular Bank, Metrobank, United Coconut Planters Bank and Air Materiel Wing Inc.
The CA ruled there was “probable cause” to believe that money kept in those account might be connected to unlawful activities.
“Based on the foregoing facts and circumstances, not to mention that this court takes judicial notice of current events relative to Napoles’ purported involvement in the alleged P10-Billion scam perpetrated over the past 10 years by a syndicate using funds from PDAF of some members of Congress, there is probable cause to believe that the bank accounts belonging to or in the name of the aforementioned individuals and other persons or corporation entities mentioned above may be related to an unlawful activity,” the CA said.
The bank inquiry came some two weeks after the CA, upon the request of the AMLC and the Office of the Solicitor General, froze more than 400 bank accounts connected to Napoles.
Napoles had repeatedly that her wealth was not ill-gotten and that it came fron legitimate businesses like a coal company in Indonesia. (MNS)