MANILA, Philippines – The woman behind the worst scandal involving the misuse of public funds may have been worth more than P5 billion at one point in her life. And this is just in terms of her dollar accounts.
Janet Lim Napoles, the alleged architect of the pork barrel scam, had at least 9 US dollar accounts to her name, with one account having more than $100 million, the digital file of whistleblower Benhur Luy showed.
Most of her dollar accounts were locked in bonds, time deposits, life insurance and financial investments, generating additional thousands of dollars in interest.
This excludes the millions of pesos in deposits stashed in the accounts of fictitious non-governmental organizations which she allegedly set up as conduit for the pork barrel scheme.
One of the entries listed in Luy’s files was a time deposit of $100,231,111.11 (roughly P4.41 billion).* While the bank was not indicated, Luy’s ledger showed the money was placed on September 17, 2009, with a maturity date of 32 days. The account was terminated on October 19, 2009. A time deposit is a savings account with a fixed term and a fixed rate.
Another savings deposit in the Metrobank-Magdalena (Makati) branch with account number 2073-01191-9, had a total of $396,185.87 (P17.4 million). The bank’s former branch manager, Ma. Winnie Villanueva, is reportedly Napoles’ friend.
Villanueva also had an account at the Air Material Wing Savings and Loan Association amounting to P100 million ($2.27 million). Villanueva is allegedly Napoles’ dummy.
Another Metrobank account, this time at the Jose Abad-Mayhaligue branch in Tondo, with account number 2255-00281-8, contained $54,251.54 (P2.38 million).
The rest of her dollar accounts were placed in high-yielding bonds, securities and instruments.
One such dollar account was placed at Metrobank’s Unit Investment Trust Fund (UITF), amounting to $2,139,468.49 (P94 million). A UITF is a pooled fund from different investors and managed by professional fund managers.
Another account was parked in a Republic of the Philippines (ROP) dollar bond, amounting to $539,808.08 (P12 million) with a maturity date every 6 months. These are securities issued by the government.
Another entry showed she placed $600,000 (P13.6 million) in a Development Bank of the Philippines account with a maturity date of September 15, 2016.
Napoles had two more dollar accounts at the Philippine AXA, a financial security firm, totaling $15.2 million (P669 million). A 9th one, an escrow account, had $10 million in it (P440 million).
In total, she had around $129 million (P5.68 billion) in dollar deposits at a given time.
Lawyer Levito Baligod, the former counsel of Luy, said Napoles’ dollar accumulation “is not impossible,” considering she’s been engaged in a dollar-buying spree all this time. “There’s also reason to believe that she used her dollars to purchase properties in the United States.”
In the first place, Baligod said Napoles made around P15 billion in the 10 years that she had been operating the pork barrel scam.
Napoles’ 2009 dollar accounts, as shown in Luy’s ledger and previous reports about the family’s properties in the US, is just a portion of what appears to be her immense wealth.
Reports by Rappler showed that as early as 2006, Napoles had been on a shopping frenzy for properties there through companies managed by her brother, Reynald Luy Lim. So far, 3 properties with a combined worth of $9.5 million (P418 million) has been identified.
Baligod said one of the companies, Western Ventures Management Inc, even figured in a case in the US after one of their foreign partners filed a complaint.
Windfall of earnings
Luy’s digital file showed that interests earned from the time deposits and dollar bonds were funneled to the Magdalena and Jose Abad-Metrobank branches, which Napoles shared with her daughter Jo Christine.
For instance, some $42,000 in interest earnings from the ROP bond were transferred to the Jose Abad-Metrobank branch, while another $49,000 also in interest earnings were moved to the Magdalena branch. Napoles’ Metrobank UITF account generated $446,770 in earnings by March 2010. She reaped $181,845 in her trust/escrow account by the time it was terminated.
Pork barrel earnings
Still, how could she have accumulated such a huge amount of dollars?
Luy’s files showed Napoles would purchase dollars at any given time – from tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands. His accounting of the peso cash flow of the millions of pesos in deposits in the different bogus NGOs also provided a hint.
For instance, there was a huge withdrawal of P206.88 million on a single day, September 4, 2009 from the accounts of 38 NGOS which almost depleted Napoles’ peso account. At one point, the peso deposits in these NGOs dipped to P5 million.
But the pork barrel bonanza ensured her money would bounce back to healthy levels.
By December 7, 2009, her peso deposits in the NGOs had rebounded, reaching P289.11 million. By this time, she was splurging on the P900-million Malampaya fund intended for distressed farmers affected by successive typhoons. – Rappler.com
*US$1 = P44
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