PCGG targets Alfredo Romualdez’s Swiss bank accountsBy Leila B. Salaverria |Philippine Daily Inquirer
MANILA, Philippines—The Presidential Commission on Good Government is seeking to confiscate additional assets from Alfredo Romualdez, a brother-in-law of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos, consisting of the Swiss bank deposits of two corporations that he had acquired.
Alfredo Romualdez and his wife Agnes already have a pending forfeiture case in the Sandiganbayan’s Third Division involving their allegedly unlawfully acquired properties.
But recently, the PCGG filed a supplemental petition in the anti-graft court alleging that Alfredo Romualdez, a brother of former First Lady Imelda Marcos, has assets in two corporations that were formed to prevent the discovery of his allegedly illegal acts. The two corporations had Swiss bank accounts.
“Respondent Alfredo, for the purpose of preventing disclosure and avoiding discovery of his illegal acts, and employing the services of prominent lawyers, accountants, financial experts, businessmen and other agents and nominees, deposited, kept, and invested funds, securities and other assets estimated at billions of US dollars in various banks, financial institutions, trust or investment companies with persons here and abroad,” it said.
The PCGG asked the Sandiganbayan to admit the supplemental petition and to direct the Romualdezes to respond to it.
It said the Romualdezes should be made to explain why the assets should not be declared property of the state. It also said that while the case has yet to be heard, the court should issue a restraining order to prevent them from transferring or disposing of their properties, assets and accounts.
In its supplemental petition, the PCGG said Alfredo, who used to be the naval attache at the Philippine Embassy in Washington, D.C., did not receive any salary from the Philippine Navy from 1970 to 1986, but was nevertheless able to acquire several properties and other assets.
It also noted that based on his statement of assets, liabilities, and net worth for 1974, Alfredo had a net worth of P758,294, while his family income amounted to P28,700 only.
But it said that from documents it acquired from the Swiss authorities under the Switzerland International Mutual Assistance on Criminal Matters, it learned that Alfredo gained control of two corporations that maintained Swiss bank accounts.
The first company was Storton Investments Co., which was organized in 1979 under the laws of Liberia, and whose sole incorporator was SB Goweh. The day following the incorporation, Goweh sold and transferred his rights, titles and interests to Alfredo through a transfer of subscription.
In 1984, Storton opened accounts and securities deposits with a private banker, Armand Von Ernst & Cie, Inc. in Switzerland. Alfredo later authorized the banker to remit to the Swiss Banking Corp.’s Hong Kong branch the income from the accounts.
Storton also opened another account with Union Bank of Switzerland in 1985. The PCGG alleged that Alfredo was also known as “Hock Sea Hai,” and had declared that he represented and controlled Storton.
The PCGG also said Alfredo acquired the shares to Halston Investments Inc. Halston was organized under the laws of Liberia in 1981. J.B. Tugbe, one of Storton’s directors, was Halston’s sole incorporator. Tugbe sold his shares to Alfredo two days after Halston was formed.
In 1984, Alfredo, on behalf of Halston, opened an account with Swiss Bank Corporation in Zurich, and told the bank that all income from the deposit should be remitted to another account in the name of Lines of Leicester in its Hong Kong branch. As of December 31, 1985, the bank account in Zurich had 12.481 million Swiss francs, PCGG said.
The PCGG said the assets and properties that Alfredo acquired while a public officer from 1970 to 1986, including the accounts in the name of foreign corporations or other bank accounts or portfolios, were out of proportion to his salaries as public officer and his lawful family income.
“Said properties and assets, including all the incomes from such properties and assets acquired, are presumed to have been unlawfully acquired, and thus belong to the [republic],” it added.