Seized dollars tied to Pastor Apollo Quiboloy
HONOLULU — The Hawaii representative of a Philippine-based religious sect is accused of trying to smuggle hundreds of thousands of dollars out of the United States aboard a private jet.
The Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported on Friday that an indictment by a federal grand jury charged Felina S. Salinas on Thursday with bulk cash smuggling for failing to report that she was carrying $335,000 in US currency and $9,000 in Australian dollars in February.
The money belonged to the sect’s founder and longtime friend of Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, Apollo Quiboloy, the Star-Advertiser said, citing the indictment.
Salinas is also charged for helping Quiboloy avoid arrest and prosecution, the paper said.
Quiboloy’s lawyer, Israelito Torreon, did not respond to the Inquirer’s requests for comment on the report on Sunday.
Quiboloy founded the Kingdom of Jesus Christ, the Name Above Every Name, or KJC, in Davao province, the Philippines, in 1985.
The sect claims to have millions of followers worldwide, a global television channel, 17 radio stations and two newspapers.
Quiboloy’s friendship with the President dates back to when the latter was still the mayor of Davao City.
US Customs and Border Protection officers arrested Salinas at Daniel K. Inouye International Airport on Feb. 13 for failing to report all amounts of cash over $10,000 in her possession.
Federal investigators from the US Department of Homeland Security say Salinas declared that she was carrying only $40,000 in US currency and $20 in Philippine pesos but was found to have much more than that in her carry-on bag.
No Miranda warning
Her lawyer, Michael Green, argued that officers did not give her a Miranda warning before questioning her.
In the United States, the Miranda warning is a type of notification customarily given by law enforcement officers to criminal suspects in custody advising them of their rights to silence and representation by lawyers.
These rights are often referred to as Miranda rights.
The purpose of the notification is to preserve the admissibility of the suspects’ statements in later criminal proceedings.
The Star-Advertiser quoted Green as saying he would ask the court to throw out Salinas’ statement claiming the bag was hers.
“They should have Mirandized her before asking her,” Green said.
Quiboloy among passengers
Federal investigators say Salinas was among four passengers and two crew members aboard a Cessna Citation Sovereign that Customs and Border Protection officers boarded for outbound inspection.
During the inspection, the crew and passengers waited in a flight support lounge.
Authorities impounded the leased aircraft following Salinas’ arrest but later released it to its owner, Textron Aviation Finance Corp.
According to the aircraft’s flight records, it arrived in Honolulu on Feb. 7 from Van Nuys, California, where KJC’s US headquarters is located.
KJC representatives have refused to say whether Quiboloy was one of the other passengers.
Green said he was, the Star-Advertiser said.
He didn’t break any US law
KJC said in February that Quiboloy had not violated any US law, was never detained, and was back in the Philippines following Salinas’ arrest.
According to state records, Salinas was the Hawaii agent of KJC when she registered it in December 2013 as a foreign nonprofit corporation.
KJC’s business address is an office in Waipahu.
Salinas listed her address as a million-dollar home that KJC owns at a gated community in Makakilo. —Reports from AP and Honolulu Star-Advertiser
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