Freeze order stays on bank accounts used by convicted drug lord — CA
The Court of Appeals (CA) maintained that the freeze order against two bank accounts allegedly used by a convicted drug lord to launder millions of pesos will stay.
In a three-page resolution, the appeals court’s former special Third Division reinstated the freeze order covering a joint account of Jeffrey Su Go and Jean Pearl Yana Go as well as a bank account owned by Jin Zhang.
The two bank accounts were earlier the subject of a provisional asset preservation order (PAPO) issued on Jan. 5, 2017 by the Manila Regional Trial Court after the Anti-money Laundering Council (AMLC) discovered that convicted drug lord Albert Chin transferred a total of P18.31 million to the joint account of the Gos from September 2012 to August 2013.
However, the PAPO was lifted after granting the motion filed by respondents claiming that the funds were meant to pay casino-related loans.
The appeals court reinstated the PAPO prompting the Gos and Jin to file a motion for reconsideration.
In their motion for reconsideration, the Gos and Jin maintained that the freeze order should have been lifted because the AMLC failed to present evidence that their accounts were connected with Chin’s illegal drug activities.
They added that the reinstatement of the PAPO violates their constitutional right to equal protection.
The appeals court said the lower court should not have ruled out the possibility that the money came from illegal drug activities of convicted drug lord Albert Chin.
“We emphasize the finding of probable cause that funds deposited to private respondents’ accounts are sourced from Albert Chin’s involvement with illegal drug trafficking,” the CA said.
“In view of said finding, the issuance of the PAPO against the accounts of private respondents Go, among others, is to give the government the necessary time to prepare its case without having to worry about the possible dissipation of the assets that in any way may be related to the suspected illegal activity,” it explained.
Chin was the leader of a group that was charged by the Department of Justice (DOJ) before the Regional Trial Court of Olongapo City in 2013.
The group was charged for illegal possession of illegal drugs during a raid conducted by the Philippine National Police Anti-Illegal Drugs Special Operations Task Force (PNP-AIDSOTF).
The operation resulted in the seizure of around 432 kilos of shabu worth P2 billion.
During the operation, authorities confiscated several items including a transaction ticket for the deposit of P3.68 million to the Go couple’s account and a P4-million manager’s check payable to Jin.
Chin, together with Romeo Manalo, Joselito Escueta, Coronel Disierto, Dennis Domingo, and Emmanuel Tobias were convicted by the Olongapo Court on September 2016.
The decision was penned by Associate Justice Rosmari Carandang and concurred in by Associate Justices Ramon Paul Hernando and Maria Elisa Sempio Diy. /vvp
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