AMLC blocked from detailing Jinggoy Estrada bank accounts on technicality
MANILA, Philippines – The bail hearing of detained senator Jinggoy Estrada was adjourned early Monday after his lawyers cried foul over the prosecution’s move to present a witness from the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC).
Estrada’s lawyer Paul Arias said the prosecution couldn’t present their witness because the panel has yet to provide them a copy of the report.
Prosecutor Jun dela Cruz said the panel has only finalized the AMLC report on Friday.
AMLC bank investigator Orlando Negradas was only allowed to identify his team’s report on the alleged millions of kickbacks purportedly deposited in Estrada’s bank accounts through conduits linked to him and his father former President Joseph Estrada.
Negradas said his team was tasked to investigate the alleged “corruption” on Estrada’s Priority Development Assistance Funds (PDAF) by prying into the bank accounts of Estrada as well as that of alleged mastermind Janet Lim-Napoles.
The prosecution was supposed to present Merlina Suñas, but her mother passed away. Next in line was National Bureau of Investigation forensic expert Joey Narciso, but he had resigned.
Fifth Division Associate Justice Alex Gesmundo said the witness could only identify the report and not discuss the findings because the defense has yet to witness the stipulation of that evidence.
According to a Philippine Daily Inquirer report, Estrada received over P150 million in kickbacks from his PDAF coursed through bank dummies in cash and checks in a period of six years.
The prosecution is mum about the contents of the 90-page bank inquiry report pending the presentation to the court, but members of the panel were confident that the report is the panel’s smoking gun against Estrada.
“In general, it shows the amount of commission received by Estrada by way of cash and checks,” Justice Undersecretary Jose Justiniano, a member to the prosecution, said in a press conference in the Office of the Ombudsman Monday.
Gerard Mosquera, Deputy Ombudsman for Luzon, called the AMLC report a “very important piece of evidence” to pin down Estrada.
“It ties up all the evidence … for the denial of Estrada’s bail on the ground that the evidence of guilt is strong, as established by the prosecution’s evidence, including this very important piece of evidence,” Mosquera said.
The papers cited in the Inquirer report said Estrada’s commissions totaled P156 million and first showed up in his bank accounts on Sept. 21, 2007 and continued until March 24, 2010. Of this amount, check deposits totaled P116.6 million and were recorded in the documents until July 26, 2012. The check deposits ranged from P1 million to P10 million.
The bank records identified significant check deposits or transactions from accused mastermind Janet Lim-Napoles and the foundations linked to her to Estrada’s alleged conduits.
The report identified Juan Ng and Francis Yengco as Estrada’s conduits who deposited the alleged kickbacks to Estrada’s eight bank accounts.
Ng, an acquaintance of Estrada, is a businessman trading in steel roofing in San Juan, where Senator Estrada served as mayor, the Inquirer reported.
Meanwhile, Yengco is a former San Juan city administrator and later Senate director. He now heads the General Services Office in Manila whose mayor is the senator’s father, former President Joseph Estrada.
Estrada had called the Inquirer report “speculative” and misleading, altogether denying dealing with the alleged conduits to deposit millions in kickbacks.
The prosecution had also presented as its smoking gun evidence the AMLC bank inquiry report on Senator Ramon Revilla Jr. The report accused Revilla of depositing at least P87.6 million in his and close relatives’ bank accounts from April 2006 to April 2010, or during the supposed period he was accused of participating in the pork barrel scam.
Mosquera said the prosecution also plans to file a motion for issuance of writ of preliminary attachment or garnishment to secure Estrada’s alleged kickbacks, as with the case of Revilla. The motion essentially seeks to secure the accused’s cash or properties alleged to be part of the kickbacks pending the case.
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