AMLC fails to produce whistleblowers’ bank records
MANILA, Philippines — The Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) on Monday failed to produce the bank records of whistleblowers in the pork barrel scam as ordered by the Sandiganbayan, citing bank secrecy regulations and lack of time.
During Senator Jinggoy Estrada’s bail hearing, Atty. Joel Jimenez said the AMLC only received a copy of the subpoena last Friday, November 21.
Jimenez then asked for more time to submit the documents while telling the court that some of these were confidential under the Bank Secrecy and Anti-Money Laundering Laws.
Estrada’s lawyer Paul Arias objected to the AMLC pleading, saying the council was given enough time to prepare the documents. He added that it would unduly delay the proceedings.
But the court dismissed the arguments of Arias, saying the AMLC was merely asking for more time to produce the documents.
The court gave AMLC three days to file a pleading, and two days for the defense to comment.
Earlier, the court granted Estrada’s request to subpoena the bank records of whistleblowers Benhur Luy, Marina Sula, Marina Sula, Merlina Sunas, Gertrudes Luy, and Mary Arlene Baltazar.
Included in the subpoena were bank documents “any and all documents relating to the inquiry, examination, or investigation of any and all deposits, investments, and related accounts with any and all banking institutions, non-bank financial institutions, and other covered institutions, non-bank financial institutions, and other covered institutions, and other monetary instruments and properties…”
Estrada’s camp wanted to find out if the whistleblowers benefitted from the scam.
State prosecutors tried to oppose the request, saying Estrada did not specify the documents requested and accused him of going on a “fishing expedition.”
“The request is so broad in nature as would require the AMLC to produce voluminous documents and records containing information that may have neither value or relevance…” their opposition read.
Prosecutors also said the law deemed bank deposits confidential unless the account holders were respondents in a case.
“The subject matter of this case is the ill-gotten wealth in the amount of P183.79 million accumulated, amassed or acquired by Estrada… It is not the transaction, money, deposits, or investments of (the witnesses) which are the subject matter of the proceedings,” they argued.
Estrada faces plunder and graft charges over his alleged involvement in the purported diversion of senators’ Priority Development Assistance Funds (PDAF) to ghost projects for kickbacks.
He is detained in Camp Crame with fellow senators Ramon Revilla Jr. and Juan Ponce Enrile, who are also facing plunder charges.
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