US turns over $1.3M assets of Filipino general

COOPERATION. US ambassador Philip Goldberg and Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales at the turnover ceremony at the Office of the Ombudsman. Photo by Ben Nabong/Rappler

COOPERATION. US ambassador Philip Goldberg and Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales at the turnover ceremony at the Office of the Ombudsman.

Photo by Ben Nabong/Rappler

MANILA, Philippines – US ambassador to the Philippines Philip Goldberg on Wednesday, June 3, turned over to Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales the amount of US$1.38 million (P61 million) representing proceeds from the sale of the forfeited assets of retired Philippine Army Major General Carlos Garcia in the US.

"The funds are criminal proceeds that were seized and forfeited in the United States from family members of Major General Carlos Garcia, who was convicted of indirect bribery and the facilitating of money laundering by the Ombudsman's Office in 2010," Goldberg said during the turnover ceremony at the Office of the Ombudsman.

The assets constitute two accounts of Citibank in New York and Garcia's purchase of a condominium at the posh Trump Tower in Manhattan, also in New York.

Garcia is a former comptroller of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), whose high-profile plunder case exposed massive corruption in the military through "conversion" and triggered a wide-ranging revamp of personnel and processes in the AFP.

The case was prompted by the arrest of his sons in 2003 at the San Francisco international airport after they failed to declare the $100,000 cash that they were carrying. The money was also earlier turned over to the Philippines.

Goldberg said cooperation between the Office of the Ombudsman and the US government in battling corruption will continue.

"I note that today is not the final chapter in the prosecution of General Garcia, as Ombudsman Morales continues to press the case against General Garcia in proceedings before the Supreme Court," Goldberg said.

Garcia's case was downgraded from plunder to direct bribery following a controversial plea bargain deal that the government is now seeking to stop. It is currently pending before the Supreme Court. (READ: Gen Garcia: How the big fish got away)

The head of the Ombudsman’s prosecution arm who handled the plea bargain case has since been dismissed.

At one point, even Vice President Jejomar Binay was dragged into the controversy following his letter to President Benigno Aquino III asking him to approve the plea bargain deal. (READ: VP Binay lobbied for General Garcia– Rappler.com