Judge Freezes $11.8 Million in Marcos Assets
The Republic of the Philippines won an order in Los Angeles federal court Wednesday freezing millions of dollars in assets of deposed president Ferdinand Marcos pending a trial for more than $50 billion in damages under U.S. racketeering laws.
U.S. District Judge Mariana Pfaelzer granted the Philippine government’s request for a preliminary injunction to prohibit the removal or transfer of approximately $11.8 million in cash, jewelry and real estate in California and Hawaii.
The Los Angeles case--one of several against Marcos in this country--proposes the novel theory that the Marcos government operated as a racketeering enterprise. Lawyers for the Philippines, Ronald Olson and Richard B. Kendall, maintained that Marcos operated the Philippine government to steal hundreds of millions of dollars and conceal the loot in the United States and Switzerland.
As examples, Olson cited as Marcos’ property a $4-million Beverly Hills home; $675,000 in U.S. Treasury Bills in the name of Marcos’ wife, Imelda, at Lloyds Bank of California; and about $7 million in jewelry and other valuables in Hawaii.
Olson argued that Marcos had clearly violated U.S. statutes governing Racketeering Influenced Corrupt Organizations (RICO) by transporting stolen funds to the United States and concealing investment of the money through cronies and offshore organizations.
Pfaelzer expressed concern over whether the court had jurisdiction in the case, whether Marcos had operated the Philippine government as a racketeering enterprise and whether there had been acts in the United States furthering the alleged racketeering.
Marcos’ attorney, Richard A. Hibey, held that almost no facts had been produced to show that Marcos had personal knowledge of the investment of money in the United States. While initially expressing reservations about the applicability of the racketeering statutes, Pfaelzer nevertheless ruled that the court had jurisdiction and that the provisions of RICO were broad enough to cover the present case.