Cuevas to Morales: What AMLC audit?

Lead defense counsel says the testimony of Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales is a concoction.

UNCONFIRMED REPORT. Lead defense counsel Serafin Cuevas says the Ombudsman's probe was based on an unconfirmed AMLC report. Photo by Emil Sarmiento

MANILA, Philippines – Demolished defense? Far from it, said lead defense counsel Serafin Cuevas.

Contrary to analysis that the testimony of Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales spelled the end for his client, Cuevas called her testimony a concoction.

Speaking to reporters after day 37 of the trial, Cuevas said a report of the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC), the basis of Morales’ investigation, is actually non-existent.

May denial na ang executive director ng AMLC. Wala raw siyang audit na ginagawa so concoction lang nila [iyan].” (The executive director of AMLC already issued a denial. The agency did not do an audit so that’s just their concoction.) Watch here: 

Cuevas said that on Monday, May 14, the defense panel asked the Senate to issue a subpoena to AMLC executive director Vicente Aquino, who allegedly denied giving Morales the report.

Aquino’s supposed denial could not be independently confirmed, however. Cuevas did not cite the source of his information. Rappler has been trying to contact Aquino to confirm Cuevas’ claim but he cannot be reached.

The lead counsel said, “’Di naman confirmed [ang report]. (The report is not confirmed). How do we deny that or contradict that unless the person who prepared it contradicted it?”

On Monday, May 14, Morales cited AMLC data in her testimony that Corona had 82 dollar accounts in 5 banks from 2003 to 2011. She said these contained US $12 million in so-called fresh deposits, or money that was never moved but remained in the bank accounts.

Morales asked the AMLC’s help in probing Corona’s alleged unexplained wealth. Her investigation was triggered by complaints filed by several petitioners.

CONCOCTED TESTIMONY. Lead defense counsel Serafin Cuevas belittles the testimony of Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales, saying it was based on a non-existent AMLC audit. Photo by Emil Sarmiento

Morales testimony ‘hearsay’

Cuevas though denied that Corona had 82 dollar accounts, saying what Morales testified on were just “transactional accounts.”

Corona’s top defender also rejected Morales’ testimony as hearsay, saying she knew nothing of the supposed AMLC audit.

Ang tinetestigo ng Ombudsman, wala namang sinabi na personal knowledge niya eh. Alin ang personal knowledge?” (The Ombudsman’s testimony, she didn’t say it was her personal knowledge. Which part was her personal knowledge?)

He said he will establish this when he conducts re-direct examination of Morales on Tuesday, May 15.

For the prosecution, the information Morales presented about Corona’s dollar accounts is authentic. Prosecution spokesperson Quezon Rep Lorenzo “Erin” Tañada III said he is sure that AMLC officials signed the documents.

Another prosecution spokesperson, Aurora Rep Juan Edgardo “Sonny” Angara, said Morales’ testimony is an exception to the hearsay rule because her investigation was done in the course of official business.

“It’s an official record [of AMLC] and the entry is in the course of official business, which is accepted as exceptions to the hearsay rule,” he said.

CHARTING DOLLARS. Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales shows her Powerpoint presentation on the supposed 82 dollar accounts of Chief Justice Renato Corona. Photo by Emil Sarmiento

Changing defense tactic?

During and after the trial, Cuevas also claimed that the Ombudsman’s investigation violated Corona’s rights, specifically his right not to be compelled to be a witness against himself, and his right to keep his foreign deposits confidential.

Morales was quick to rebut Cuevas’ statement. In her testimony, she said she was sounding like a broken record in asserting that she was only fulfilling her mandate in asking Corona to explain his alleged US $10 million.

Enrile overruled Cuevas, saying the Ombudsman has the power to ask any agency for helping in investigating public officials.

The Ombudsman also pointed out that the defense seemed to have changed its line in responding to the alleged US $10 million.

Morales told Cuevas, “The knee-jerk reaction is to say that’s phony. Now you’re invoking the Bill of Rights?”

RIGHTS NOW? Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales asks Cuevas why the defense changed its line from saying the $10M was phony to raising the issue about the alleged violation of Corona's rights. Photo by Emil Sarmiento

Ombudsman probe the new ‘45 properties?’

In questioning the AMLC audit, the defense is trying to liken the Ombudsman probe to the inaccurate list of Corona’s supposed 45 real properties that came from the Land Registration Authority (LRA).

The figure proved to be incorrect because the list included properties of Corona’s namesakes and those already sold. The prosecution later changed its claim to 25 properties while the defense insists Corona has only 5.

In a statement, Corona called Morales’s testimony a hoax.

Morales, however, said that she got the records on Corona’s bank transactions from the AMLC after asking the agency for help. –

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