Imelda’s brother Kokoy Romualdez passes away

Lala Rimando

KOKOY ROMUALDEZ: Newsbreak Photo
MANILA, Philippines [UPDATED] – Imelda Marcos’ younger brother has died.  

Former US Ambassador and Leyte Governor Benjamin “Kokoy” Romualdez, 81, has passed away, his son Leyte Rep. Martin Romualdez confirmed to Rappler on Tuesday afternoon, February 21.

“Yes, it’s true,” Martin said when asked about it, adding that the family is in the hospital.

Kokoy’s death comes 2 years after the Supreme Court favored him in a 2-decade graft case rooted in allegations that he used his influence on his brother-in-law, the late President Ferdinand Marcos, to get appointed as ambassador to China, Saudi Aradia, and the US.

Kokoy was a regular in Forbes’ annual list of richest Filipinos. In 2011, he ranked 32nd with an estimated wealth of $150 million, most of it coming from the family’s minority stake in Banco de Oro, the Philippines’ biggest bank in terms of assets.  

Business empire

The Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG), which was tasked to recover ill-gotten assets during Marcos’ martial law years, alleged that Kokoy, being the presidential brother-in-law, had easy access not only to the powers that be but also to enterprises that he fancied.

After Kokoy and the rest of his family abruptly left the country with the Marcoses during the people power revolt in 1986, the PCGG listed as many as 61 corporations where Kokoy allegedly acquired shares of stock illegally.

The list includes Meralco, Mantrade Development Corporation, Meralco Foundation Inc., Philippine Commercial and International (PCI) Bank, First Philippine Holdings, Benguet Corporation, Philtranco Service Enterprise, and Pilipinas Shell Petroleum Corp.
The government’s claim on most of these companies has been forfeited after the PCGG, swamped with the gargantuan task of going after thousands of sequestered companies, missed to file cases against most of the Romualdez companies before February 1987, the deadline imposed by law.

The only cases that prospered were those against Meralco Foundation, Philippine Journal, Inc., in Palm companies, which have stakes in Benguet Corp, and in Trans-Middle East Equities Inc, which has a stake in Equitable PCI Bank. 

The Romualdezes retained their minority stake in the commercial bank after it was acquired and expanded by Banco de Oro, which is controlled by mall magnate and Philippines’ richest Henry Sy.

Part 1 The One That Got Away
Part 2 Sins Of The Past
Part 3 Birds of the Same Feather

Graft case

Of the many cases filed against Kokoy, it was the graft case that concerned him the most. A warrant of arrest had once been issued against him.

In October 2009, however, the Supreme Court affirmed with finality its decision to dismiss the graft complaint, which was about the his dual compensation received from 1976 to 1986.  

The high court said Kokoy should go scott-free for failing to submit his Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Networth because the Ombudsman, which took over the case from the PCGG, filed it in 2004, or after the 15 year prescription period has lapsed.

The government had alleged that Romualdez, while serving as envoy to different countries and serving as Leyte Provincial Governor at the same time, received compensation for both to the disadvantage of the government. –

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