Jinggoy refiles bill allowing probers access to foreign currency deposits of gov’t execs
MANILA, Philippines – Detained Senator Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada is continuing his push to exempt foreign currency deposits from confidentiality upon order of an impeachment court if these are related to graft cases involving public officials.
Estrada, who is facing a plunder charge, recently refiled a bill that seeks to allow investigators access to foreign currency accounts of government officials to promote and enhance transparency and accountability in government.
According to him, public officials and employees have used the Foreign Currency Deposits Act to hide illegally acquired wealth.
His bill, which would amend the Foreign Currency Deposits Act, states that an impeachment court, upon motion, can give an order exempting a foreign currency account from confidentiality, if the account is involved in a graft case of a public official. Parties of the case must first be given proper notice and hearing.
Probable cause must also be established showing that the foreign currency deposit is directly related to the cause of action in the complaint.
Estrada filed a similar measure in the previous Congress. But his previous version of the bill, allows not just an impeachment court, but also “any competent court” to issue an exemption to the scrutiny of the foreign currency deposit.
The current bill only refers to an impeachment court order as the one that can issue such an order.
Estrada is currently detained for charges stemming from his alleged pocketing of priority development assistance funds through a network of bogus non-government organizations.
The Anti-Money Laundering Council has scrutinized his own bank accounts as part of the probe.
Estrada has denied involvement in any irregularity and contended that the witnesses against him were lying.
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