Fri, Apr 05, 2013 - Page 5 News List

Philippines to probe a ‘secret’ offshore Marcos trust fund

HUNTED DOWN:The Presidential Commission on Good Government has recovered US$4 billion in assets that the Marcos family illegally acquired

AFP, MANILA

The Philippine government said yesterday it plans to investigate an allegation that the eldest daughter of late Philippine president Ferdinand Marcos was the beneficiary of a secret offshore trust.

A report published by the Philippine Centre for Investigative Journalism alleged that Imee Marcos, 57, now a provincial governor, had failed to declare the British Virgin Islands trust as legally required.

Andres Bautista, head of a presidential body tasked to recover the billions of US dollars the Marcos family stole from government coffers during the patriarch’s 20-year rule, said his office would look into the allegations.

“We are duty bound to investigate and, depending upon informed preliminary findings, decide whether to pursue the matter,” Bautista said.

A popular uprising topped Marcos in 1986 and he died in US exile three years later. His famously extravagant wife, Imelda, has always denied she and her husband were corrupt.

The Presidential Commission on Good Government, which Bautista heads, has recovered US$4 billion in assets that the Marcos family illegally acquired, including from Swiss bank accounts and US properties.

However, Bautista said in January that, with Imee, Imelda and Ferdinand Marcos Jr having re-established political influence in the Philippines, the commission was considering giving up on the chase for the billions more believed to be hidden.

“It’s been 26 years and people you are after are back in power. At some point, you just have to say: ‘We’ve done our best,’ and that’s that. It is really difficult,” he said.

The Philippine Centre for Investigative Journalism said the work looking into the Marcos trust was a collaboration with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, which includes major foreign media groups.

It said the research had uncovered “scores of documents” showing Imee Marcos was a financial adviser for and beneficiary of the secret trust, although it was not known what assets it held.

Telephone calls to Imee Marcos’ office went unanswered yesterday.

Imee Marcos is running unopposed in next month’s mid-term elections for a second term as governor of Ilocos Norte province, which was her father’s political stronghold.

Imelda Marcos is also likely to retain her seat in Congress. Ferdinand Jr, a senator, is widely expected to run for president in 2016.

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