Plunder defendant Jaime Dichaves allowed to travel abroad
Plunder defendant Jaime Dichaves allowed to travel abroad
The self-confessed owner of the dummy Jose Velarde account is a co-defendant in the plunder case against former President Joseph Estrada. Nearly 15 years later, he has yet to undergo trial

MANILA, Philippines – Jaime Dichaves, the businessman who claimed to own the dummy Jose Velarde account that prompted the downfall of former President Joseph Estrada in 2001, was granted permission to travel to China for 15 days after posting P1 million in travel bonds before the Sandiganbayan Special Division. 

A co-defendant in the plunder case against Estrada, Dichaves has yet to undergo trial nearly 15 years since the case was filed in April 2001. (READ: Cast in Erap plunder case: Where are they now?)

Dichaves left the Philippines on November 14 and will return on November 29, based on the Manifestation filed by his lawyer Noel Malaya. He told the court he is going to Hong Kong, Shenzen, Guanzhou, and Shanghai.

Malaya noted that Dichaves’ travel was approved on September 23 by the Supreme Court 2nd Division, which set conditions such as the submission of a manifestation to the Sandiganbayan that will include his final itinerary. Dichaves was also ordered to appear before the Special Division upon his return  and show his passport for verification. 

Malaya said Dichaves posted a P500,000 bond on November 12 in addition to earlier cash bonds of P200,000 posted in February 13 and P300,000 posted in March 19. These have not been withdrawn.

Dichaves was accused of helping Estrada amass at least P189.7 million of commission out of the P1.847 billion combined investments made by the Social Security System and the Government Service Insurance System in Belle Corporation.

He claimed to own and control the dummy Jose Velarde account that was linked to Estrada by a bank executive who testified against the president in his impeachment trial. The refusal of the Senate, sitting as an impechment court, to open an envelope that would detail the bank transactions prompted the second People Power revolution that ousted Estrada in January 2001.

Dichaves flew out of the country and escaped trial while Estrada was later tried, convicted, and pardoned. He returned to the Philippines in 2010 to challenge the plunder charge, arguing that he was not accorded an opportunity to refute the allegations against him in a proper preliminary investigation.

His case was returned to the Office of the Ombudsman, which eventually affirmed the previous indictment and refiled the case with the Sandiganbayan. 

Before a new arrest warrant was issued, Dichaves ran to the Supreme Court. The High Court issued a temporary restraining order in his favor in July 2013.

The TRO remains in effect to date. 

He has since rekindled his relationship with Estrada and was spotted partying with the Estrada family in a family affair where pork barrel queen Janet Lim Napoles was also present.

Based on court records, Dichaves is president of Plaster Glass Manufacturing Inc, with a supposed annual income of P200 million. Last year, he attempted to join Estrada’s entourage in a trip in Hong Kong, Bangkok and Tokyo, but was disallowed travel by the Sandiganbayan. –

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