‘AMLC must probe Binay dollar accounts in ’90s’

Ayee Macaraig
‘AMLC must probe Binay dollar accounts in ’90s’
Former Makati Vice Mayor Ernesto Mercado says: 'I can't see where VP Binay gets the gall to say he only has 5 bank accounts. He is too forgetful.'

MANILA, Philippines – The Court of Appeals (CA) already froze the bank accounts of Vice President Jejomar Binay for transactions from 2008 to 2014 but his critics want the government to also look into his finances in the 1990s. 

Former Makati Vice Mayor Ernesto Mercado urged the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) to investigate Binay’s bank transactions in the dollar accounts he owned from 1994 to 1998, when the Vice President was still Makati mayor. 

In the 21st Senate hearing on corruption allegations against Binay, Mercado repeated a Powerpoint presentation he did last year where he showed documents that indicated Binay had at least 7 foreign accounts. (READ: Mercado shows Binay’s ‘hidden’ dollar accounts)

“’Di ko makita saan siya kumukuha ng lakas ng loob para sabihing 5 lang ang account niya. Makakalimutin masyado siya. Sa AMLC, dapat magkaroon ng mas masusing imbestigasyon para mapatunayan magkano ang pera abroad na ‘di pa nakikita ng AMLC,” Mercado said on Thursday, May 28. 

(I can’t see where he gets the gall to say he has only 5 bank accounts. He is too forgetful. To AMLC, it should have a thorough investigation to prove how much money he has abroad that AMLC has yet to see.) 

Mercado was referring to Binay’s statement that only 5 of the 242 bank accounts the CA froze on May 11 were his. The CA froze the bank accounts of Binay and his alleged dummies in relation to the alleged overpriced Makati parking building, and Makati Science High School. 

Yet the whistleblower said that the AMLC should also look into his statements that Binay has at least 3 other foreign accounts with his supposed dummies Gerry Limlingan and longtime aide Eduviges “Ebeng” Baloloy. 

1996 pa lang, paano itatanggi ni VP Binay na ‘di niya confidante si Gerry Limlingan, eh makikita sa account kung paano nag-iipon ng pera si Ate Ebeng at Kuya Gerry? US dollar account, nakapangalan kay Binay,” Mercado said. 

(It was just 1996. How can VP Binay deny that Gerry Limlingan is his confidante, when you can see in the accounts how Ate Ebeng and Kuya Gerry saved money? Those were US dollar accounts in Binay’s name.) 

Mercado reiterated that the foreign accounts were not reflected in Binay’s Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth (SALN).

Senate Majority Leader Alan Peter Cayetano echoed Mercado’s call, saying Binay must explain his bank transactions beyond those covered by the freeze order. 

Pilit nililihis ang issue kasi nakita na ‘di lang peso kundi meron ding foreign accounts at ‘di lang 2008 at 2014 kasi pinapaliwanag na campaign contributions. But way back 1990s pa lang, may joint account  na, foreign and local,” Cayetano said in an interview after the hearing. 

(The Binays keep diverting the issue because it’s seen that they did not just have peso, but also foreign accounts, and it was not just for 2008 to 2014 where they explained it as campaign contributions. But way back in the 1990s, there were already joint accounts, foreign and local.) 

The Senate ordered that Limlingan and Baloloy be arrested, and be brought to the hearing but staff were unable to locate them. 

WRONG FORUM. Businessman Antonio Tiu (left) says the Senate is not the proper forum to address charges he fronted for VP Binay. Photo by Cesar Tomambo/Senate PRIB

‘Financial maneuvering’ 

Other witnesses cited in contempt finally made it to the hearing. Yet they were unable to respond to allegations of being Binay’s dummies due to time constraints. 

Cayetano criticized businessman Antonio Tiu for invoking his right against self-incrimination. Tiu is accused of fronting for Binay as the owner of a property in Rosario, Batangas dubbed as the lavish Hacienda Binay. (READ: I’m not leaving PH – Antonio Tiu)

The senator told Tiu, “If you want to avoid contempt, you have to follow the law. There is no law or right you can use to say you won’t submit documents. We are asking you to submit corporate documents.”  

Senate blue ribbon subcommittee chairman Aquilino Pimentel III told the Chong family to prepare for questions about the positions they hold in Meriras Realty Development Corporation where they allegedly fronted for Binay in the questionable sale of public land in Makati. The Chongs are also listed as shareholders of Millennium Food Chains Corp, which supposedly supplies birthday cakes for senior citizens of Makati. 

The hearing also returned to the 2008 land deal between the Boy Scouts of the Philippines (BSP) and Alphaland Corporation where Binay supposedly got 5% for his 2010 campaign. The deal involved a joint venture agreement between BSP and Alphaland over a one-hectare Makati property of the Boy Scouts. 

Cayetano grilled officials of Noble Care Management Corporation, the company Alphaland President Mario Oreta allegedly used to hide Binay’s 5% cut. He said this was part of “financial maneuvering” to conceal anomalous transactions. 

The senator asked how come the shares Silvertown (later renamed Alphaland Makati Place Inc) gave to Noble Care disappeared from the latter’s financial statement. 

Cayetano also asked Noble Care if the P100 million ($2.24 million) of the P200 million ($4.48 million) that supposedly went to Binay was declared as a loan or not. 

Cayetano told Jay Sangalang of Noble Care: “You said it’s a loan but here in your financial statement, you did not declare it as a loan.”

Sangalang responded, “It could have been an error on the part of the accountant.” 

Upon Pimentel’s questioning, Sangalang admitted that the accountant who prepared the financial statement was already dead. 

Cayetano quipped: “That’s the difficulty when you ask questions, they will say the person is either dead or sick. If the person is dead, it’s so unfair to accuse them of all these things.” 

ALLEGED DUMMIES. Kimsfer Chong and Imee Chong take their oath as senators are set to ask them about their role in firms identified as Binay dummies. Photo by Cesar Tomambo/Senate PRIB

Limlingan sister-in-law appears 

A surprise witness was Limlingan’s sister-in-law, Marita Limlingan, who showed up at the end of the hearing to decry Cayetano’s statements about her brokerage firm Regina Capital Development Corp. Marita is the wife of Gerry Limlingan’s brother, Victor Limlingan. 

Cayetano had said in the earlier part of the hearing that Regina Capital was the broker that handled the Noble Care shares.

Marita Limlingan denied Cayetano’s claim, calling it “shameless.” 

“There is no truth Regina Capital was involved in illegal activity, and money-laundering. Regina Capital never transacted with the VP and his family,” said Marita, president of Regina Capital. 

Yet she was forced to apologize when Cayetano took exception to her strongly worded statement. The senator said he was just citing a GMA7 news report.   

Cayetano shot back: “Did I call you a money-launderer? If you said, ‘Sir, if you clarify,’ it would have been better. For you to accuse me I am accusing you, I am more responsible than that.” – Rappler.com  

 

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