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Marcos, Aides Accused of Embezzling $5 Billion

From Times Wire Services

Government lawyers said Wednesday they have filed a complaint with a government commission accusing ousted President Ferdinand E. Marcos, his wife, and 24 associates of embezzling at least $5 billion in foreign loans and other funds.

Solicitor General Sedfrey Ordonez said he filed the complaint April 7 with the government’s Commission on Good Government, which has been investigating charges that Marcos and his associates made off with billions of dollars when they fled the country at the end of February.

The commission, headed by Jovito R. Salonga, was formed shortly after a civilian-backed military revolt ousted Marcos and installed Aquino as president Feb. 25. It has been assigned the task of recovering Marcos’ “hidden wealth.”

“This will enable us to conduct formal hearings once we have determined the full amount of the assets and properties,” Salonga said. “Mr. Marcos’ lawyers will be summoned to appear in the hearings.”

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Global Assets Listed

The document listed assets in the United States, Switzerland, England, Austria, Italy, Australia, Canada and other countries.

The complaint named Marcos and 25 others, including his wife, Imelda, their children--Imee, Irene and Ferdinand Jr.--and sons-in-law Tomas Manotoc and Gregorio Araneta.

Also named were the former armed forces chief, Gen. Fabian C. Ver, his associate Edna Camcam, former Energy Minister Geronimo Velasco, former Highways Minister Baltazar Aquino, former Philippine Air Lines Chairman Roman Cruz, and former Ambassador to Rome Bienvenido Tantoco and his wife, Gliceria.

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Among Marcos’ wealthy friends charged were coconut magnate Eduardo Cojuangco, sugar czar Roberto Benedicto, banana grower Antonio Floirendo, auto dealer Ricardo Silverio, contractor Roberto Cuenco, beer brewer Lucio Tan and management consultant Herminio Disino.

Salonga said the commission will hold hearings to determine whether to pursue the charges against the 26, either in a special court or in the Sandiganbayan, an anti-corruption court created by Marcos.

A court judgment in the Philippines on the case against Marcos is regarded as essential to pursuing lawsuits to recover assets in other countries.

Senators Assured on Aid

In Washington, U.S. officials have told Congress that all U.S. economic assistance funds in the Philippines are accounted for and were not used to enrich Marcos.

The Agency for International Development, the main dispenser of U.S. economic aid, has “put in place a stringent auditing system that gives an assurance to the taxpayers” because “we live and work in an environment . . . where corruption is an issue that will never go away,” AID Administrator M. Peter McPherson told the Senate Appropriations foreign operations subcommittee on Tuesday.

But, he conceded, “it’s an issue we struggle with in every country.”

Charles Greenleaf Jr., assistant AID administrator for Asia and the Near East, testified that Jaime Ongpin, finance minister under new Philippine President Corazon Aquino, has sent AID a letter “indicating that as a result of our vigorous steps, these funds are all accounted for.”

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Sen. Dennis DeConcini (D-Ariz.) raised the matter, saying that “I don’t want to accuse anyone here, but the information I have seen indicates Marcos confiscated or at least misused some of our aid.”

Referring to a congressional investigation of multimillion-dollar real estate holdings in New York City by Marcos and his wife, he asked, “Can you give us some assurance that we won’t find our funds buying prime real estate in Manhattan?”

Ongpin’s letter covered 1984-85, Greenleaf told the senator, adding, “Our records show that in prior periods of time as well,” U.S. aid funds were handled correctly, through the use of special accounts.


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