Jinggoy to SC: Don’t admit AMLC report as evidence

Jinggoy to SC: Don’t admit AMLC report as evidence
Estrada asks the High Court to exclude as evidence findings of the Ant-Money Laundering Council in his plunder case

MANILA, Philippines – Overturn the Sandiganbayan ruling that admits as evidence the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) report on his and his wife’s bank accounts. This is what detained Senator Jose “Jinggoy” Ejercito Estrada is asking the Supreme Court (SC).

The anti-graft court had previously allowed the admission as evidence of an AMLC report in Estrada’s plunder trial in relation to the multi-million-peso pork barrel scam. Estrada had been accused of misusing his Priority Develop Assistance Fund (PDAF) supposedly intended for development projects.

In a 22-page petition for certiorari, prohibition, and mandamus, Estrada and his wife Presentacion “Precy” Ejercito asked the SC to stop the Sandiganbayan’s 5th Division from using the AMLC report and to declare it inadmissible as evidence. He said that its admission as evidence would violate his constitutional rights to a fair trial and adversely affect his and his wife’s right to due process.

In his petition, Estrada said the AMLC appears to be on a “fishing expedition” for evidence it could use against him and his wife.

He also asked the High Tribunal to declare unconstitutional the amendment to Section 11 of the Anti-Money Laundering Act which says that owners of “related accounts” being probed by the AMLC need not be alerted about investigations.

A 90-page AMLC report alleges that Estrada allegedly received P157.6 million in kickbacks for siphoning his PDAF from 2007-2012 to foundations or non-governmental organizations controlled by alleged pork barrel scam mastermind Janet Lim Napoles.

Taking a close look at the transactions involving 9 bank accounts of Estrada, the AMLC said dummy accounts under the names of Francis Yenko and Juan Ng were used.

No match

The report also noted that what he declared in his Statement of Assets and Liabilities and Net Worth (SALN) did not match what he had in his bank accounts. 

For instance, while having total cash in the bank that amounted to P299.2 million from 2005 to 2012, Estrada declared in his SALN only P238.6 million as cash in bank for that period.

The AMLC also pointed out that Estrada closed 4 of his 9 bank accounts with a balance of P76.446 million in September 2013, when investigations the justice department and the National Bureau of Investigation started.

The Sandiganbayan ruled that the bank secrecy law is not absolute – such as when a court issues an order to examine bank accounts which are subject to litigation of a criminal case like plunder. It was the Court of Appeals that issued an order authorizing the AMLC to investigate Estrada’s bank accounts.

In challenging the Sandiganbayan’s ruling before the High Court, Estrada said it committed grave abuse of discretion when it ruled that privacy rights should yield to the mandate of the AMLC.

Because the AMLC report was unlawfully obtained, it should not admitted in court, Estrada argued. – Rappler.com

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